News & Insights

Read and share Parliament Hill insights and news on the tips, trends, and key developments we’ve identified for benefit management and member satisfaction.

What does climate change mean for you?

Dr Mark Pegg looks at COP26 and what it means for businesses and communities. He also shares some ideas on what we can do as individuals to help.

What does climate change mean for you?

Alok Sharma said the UN climate change conference COP26 in Glasgow was a ’game changer’; Greta Thunberg said it was ‘blah, blah, blah’. The answer probably lies somewhere in between. There was far more talk than action, but there was vigorous sharing of opinion, important decisions were taken, and real progress was made. Awareness of the urgency for action continued to grow. We heard vivid accounts about the dangers of getting too hot and rising sea levels from the mouths of the very people affected.

For the first time, countries agreed to act on fossil fuels, admittedly watered down from ‘phase out’ to ‘phase down’ coal - fossil fuels had not even been mentioned before. We got closer to limiting a rise of 1.5C, in the range 1.8C to 2.4C when a year ago we were facing a devastating rise of 3.5C by 2100.

But what does COP26 mean for your business and your community? What can you do to fight climate change? Have you bought into net zero carbon and, just as important, are you acting to change your own practice or do you still take after St Augustine’s famous prayer – ‘oh, master, make me chaste and celibate—but not yet’?

In a 2020 survey for UK government, 83% of participants reported climate change to be a concern, although it’s seen as something that impacts most beyond our shores. 14% perceived climate change as affecting their local area ‘a great deal’ compared to 42% perceiving climate change as affecting other countries ‘a great deal’. 86% perceived other countries to be experiencing climate change to ‘at least some extent’ and around 50% perceived their local area to be experiencing climate change ‘at least some extent’.

With increased awareness, there is still much scepticism that any one person can make a difference. Parliament Hill’s own research in 2021 showed members’ widely held perception that green products and services are more expensive. Individual citizens often feel helpless – what difference can one person make, when China and India go on mining millions of tonnes of coal and emitting colossal amounts of greenhouse gases?

What can you do Today more and more people recognise the axiom ‘every little helps’, that each of us can act to be environmentally friendlier: to change how we live our lives day by day - what we buy, what we consume. Not to let the perfect be the thief of the good, that lots and lots of our incremental individual actions add up to make a difference, and they don’t cost a fortune. Yes, fitting a heat pump and buying an electric car are major capital spends that many cannot afford, but there are so many things we can do. The top five are:

    1. 1. Insulate your home better – draught proofing is easy and inexpensive, a thicker loft insulation coat is not costly, both are easy to fit – and set a lower thermostat level, put on that extra sweater: together they can help you cut CO2 emissions from space heating to save the planet;
    2. 2. Cut out food waste – set out to only buy what we need, to keep and eat more of the food and drink we buy, get a composter, plan your meals better, don’t be tempted by buy one, get one free on fresh food;
    3. 3. Cut down on red meat – vegetarianism and veganism are rising - in 2021, there are some 600,000 vegans in the UK - that’s 2% of the population. Vegetarian is also rising to 7%, higher in some age groups - 11% of 18–19-year-olds The UK market for vegetarian food and drink and plant-based alternatives is already £1.1bn and rising.
    4. 4. Drive less, fly less – data shows home working, walking, cycling, staycations are well up on a rising trend pre-Covid and together they are having an impact on CO2 emissions from cars and planes;
    5. 5. Think before you buy – cutting down on single use plastic, disposable fashion, recyclable products, repairable products. Insist on a more visible and more sustainable supply chain, know more about the food miles for the meals we eat, the suppliers who plant trees to offset their emissions.

Parliament Hill set out on its own sustainability journey in 2020, adopting a simple framework that any business could readily embrace, identifying ways to improve business practices, not just for the company itself but also its stakeholders. The first step is to agree what sustainability means to every employee, then to commit to create a more sustainable future together as one team by establishing three key pillars of sustainability:

· Social - provide a safe environment for the team, clients, members and brand partners to assist in reaching their own sustainability objectives;

· Environmental - do everything possible to minimise our environmental impact and for clients, members and brand partners to ensure their future is not impacted by our actions;

· Economic - analyse our costs to see where we can be more financially sustainable so that our investments and partnerships are aligned to meet our sustainability approach.

At COP 26 there were still the VIP private jets, energy lobbyists and smooth-talking diplomats. There are still those out there who deny climate change. However, there are far more out there who are committed to do what they can to go green, reach zero carbon, reduce their environmental impact and save the planet.

Parliament Hill is on their own Sustainability Journey, to find out more click here .

Where are you in your sustainability journey? We’d love to hear from you.

Author: Dr Mark Pegg, Director, Chalfont Associates


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