Earlier this year, UN Secretary-General António Guterres coined a term as apt as it is frightening. “The era of global warming has ended,” Guterres stated in a briefing at U.N. headquarters. “The era of global boiling has arrived.”
The Secretary-General alluded to a report that showed this summer included the hottest three days and the hottest three-week period ever recorded.
As a parent, climate anxiety hits especially close to home. And I’m not alone.
According to new global research conducted by Morning Consult (commissioned by HP), 91 per cent of parents are concerned about the climate crisis and 53 per cent say it has impacted their decision to have more children.
Elizabeth Cripps, University of Edinburgh moral philosopher and the author of Parenting on Earth: A Philosopher’s Guide to Doing Right By Your Kids – and Everyone Else, writes that worrying about the climate crisis has expanded the very idea of what “good parenting” means. These days, Cripps says, being a good parent means being a good global citizen.
So, what does that mean for companies? In a word: sustainability.
Companies have the opportunity to help parents out by working towards the greater good. According to the same Morning Consult study, 64 per cent of parents globally say they prefer products that are sustainably sourced and 60 per cent say sustainable company practices play a large part in their purchasing habits. Most notably, the study also revealed that the majority of parents are looking beyond their own spending power for climate leadership – with 51 per cent believing that companies have a lot of responsibility and should hold themselves accountable to climate action.
In other words, being sustainable can also be good for business. At HP, we take pride in being recognized as Canada’s most sustainable technology company and believe that consumers will increasingly look to choose products and services that reduce environmental impact. This is not only true in terms of customers but also for workforce retention. A recent global survey of 2,000 business students found 51 per cent would accept lower salaries to work for an environmentally responsible company. How a company operates is just as important as what it does.
Another way organizations can bring their climate commitments to life is through circular procurement, an area in which most Canadian businesses still lag. Currently, Canada is only 6.1 per cent circular. It is clear that companies have lots of opportunity to take action.
An organization’s supply chain can generate up to 11.4 times more emissions than the company’s direct operations. This means that transformations, such as a shift to service-based models, can support this necessary transition to a circular, decarbonized world. The circular economy is ushering in an altogether different model, including services and product-as-a-service, to supplement one-time transactions with ongoing, contractual, subscription-based customer service relationships, all of which contribute to overall sustainability goals.
As the lived realities of the age of global burning hit closer to home, offering products and services that are more sustainable while investing in company practices that support climate action is crucial. Organizations that reduce their carbon footprint and embrace the circular economy will forge a stronger connection with engaged customers for whom concern for the next generation is top of mind.