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On 1 July 2021, London Climate Action Week hosted a coalition of the UK’s professional bodies to launch the Professional Bodies Climate Action Charter at London Climate Action Week. The event featured a panel discussion between representatives from supporters of the Charter.
Nick Mabey, CEO at E3G, opened by discussing the importance of professionals in taking the critical action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and UN Race to Zero. While stressing the success of these commitments, he noted that they require collaboration not just from their signatories, but from the whole of society, to achieve. He expressed that the professionals, who bear a high-level of trust amongst the public, had an important leadership role to play that, to-date, has been underleveraged in large-scale climate initiatives.
The panelists then answered questions about the role of their professions in climate action and their hopes for collaboration under the Charter. On the former, Colin Church, CEO at the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3), commented that there was no such thing as climate-neutral work for IOM3’s members: they would either be part of the solution or part of the problem. Therefore it is vital for IOM3 and its peer institutions to set out plans to support its members to be part of the transition to sustainability.
Discussion then focused on the importance of breaking down siloes and fostering systems-level thinking. Richard Spencer, speaking for the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), highlighted that, although professional membership organisations can often be competitive, sustainability leadership is a place for cooperation. He cited the huge success of ICAEW’s own climate info hub for accountants as evidence for a strong appetite for this cooperation amongst members. James Robottom, Sustainability & Climate Change Lead at the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), called for systems-level approaches to complex problems that involve multiple authorities and disciplines.
Moving on to the panel’s hopes for collaboration around the Charter, the discussion centred on creation of a common language amongst the professions. Colin Church expressed hope that the Charter group would become a one-stop shop for policy makers to find interdisciplinary advice from professionals. Ethny Childs, at the Institution of Environmental Sciences (IES), anticipated that the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow (COP26) would be “the COP of action”, at this critical juncture for climate action, with the Charter serving as an example of a much-needed mechanism to fulfil the pledges of the 2016 Paris Agreement.
Maya Freedman, Head of Business Engagement & Sponsorship for COP26, closed the meeting by placing the Charter in the context of the goals for COP26 – in particular the fourth goal: working together. Maya stressed that, with the international reach of many of the Charter’s supporters, it has the potential to serve as a model and accelerator for action beyond the UK and to demonstrate the credibility of the UK’s net zero targets at COP26.
Following its launch, the list of supporters to the Charter has been growing, with supporters expected to ratify as signatories by September of this year, ahead of COP26. The text of the document can be found at the link below, and those interested in participation should contact email@example.com.