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COP 27: Where do Businesses Stand on Sustainability?

14 November 2022
People around the globe are watching the United Nation’s annual climate conference throughout November.

The meeting commenced on Sunday 6th and continues through until Friday 18th providing just under 2 weeks of focused sessions addressing the climate crisis. COP 27 marks the 27th conference since world leaders met and initiated action to address the issue. Since then, we have seen a number of countries throughout the world making commitments, targets set and plans put in place to achieve this.

The UK government has committed to reaching net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and were the first major economy in the world to pass legislation on this. However, as time passes, there are growing concerns about the lack of progress against these targets to date.

As we approached COP 27, NQA reached out to our existing client and consultant base to gain an insight into their position regarding sustainability and more specifically carbon. We asked a number of questions varying from business priorities, preference, and pressures for now and for the future.

The results yielded some interesting findings…

When asked whether businesses consider sustainability a core priority, 84% of respondents either agreed or strongly agreed. We must acknowledge that our clients span a broad range of industries; from QSHE to medical devices, food and drink to aerospace. With this it typically means there are varying priorities dependent on the industry, as well as a number of commonly shared objectives.

Within the current economic climate, many businesses are focused on high risk areas such as reducing costs, so to see that 84% of respondents are also positioning sustainability as a high priority, even with a lack of enforced legislation or requirement yet in this area, speaks volumes about the known importance of this area. This may be information gathering and preparing for future actions or implementing strategies to drive carbon reductions and embed sustainability at the heart of a business.

Our sustainability survey delivered other interesting statistics, such as:

  • 57% of respondents currently either fully or partly report on their carbon footprint

  • 47% of those reporting on their carbon footprint did so with consultant involvement

  • 67% of respondents have made a commitment to future net zero ambitions

  • 63% of respondents either agreed or strongly agreed that they would prioritise suppliers who are more performing more sustainably than those who weren’t

  • 65% of respondents are required or partially required to act upon relevant sustainability regulations and legislations

  • 53% of respondents have experienced pressure from stakeholders to be transparent when acting on sustainability issues

So what can we take from this? First it is important to consider how different those results may have been 10, 20 or 30 years ago. The likelihood is that few companies would have considered sustainability to be amongst their top priorities, and that even less of those businesses were actively reporting on emissions, regulations, or experiencing external pressures. As COP 27 will show us, this is not an issue we can avoid and there is a need for countries, businesses, and even individuals to play their part.

We can hope that the outputs from the conference, and the increased awareness of climate issues that comes with it, that going forward we see real accountability and actions to drive forward change. Soon, being sustainable will be less of a ‘nice to have’ and instead a matter of urgency. Now consider what those results may show in 10, 20 or 30 years ahead into the future. Our position for the future is built from the steps we take now.  

Discover more insights, tools and resources at NQA’s Sustainability Hub.