Gi Group UK provides temporary and permanent recruitment and workforce management solutions to local, national and global clients of all sizes. We work with our clients to understand their ongoing workforce needs and use our expertise to deliver a truly exceptional service; allowing your business to deliver sustainable growth while maintaining the flexibility to respond quickly to market changes.
Gi Group are one of the world’s leading companies providing services to the development of the labour market. In the UK, we place over 20,000 temporary and permanent staff into work nationwide each week. We work in partnership with our clients and candidates to create trust, understanding and value.
Our extensive branch network provides temporary, contract and permanent staff to a wide range of business sectors and is complemented by our onsite capabilities, which provide dedicated specialist HR teams based on our clients’ own premises where the requirement for large numbers of flexible workers is high. This means looking after their end-to-end recruitment needs, saving them time and money.
As a Group, our areas of expertise include temporary and permanent staffing, search and selection, interim, executive search, recruitment process outsourcing, training and development, change management and outplacement.
To find out more about how Gi Group can support your recruitment and workforce needs please visit https://uk.gigroup.com/employers/
WORKING FOR LONG TERM BENEFITS
- Creating local jobs
- Supporting host communities
- Sound environmental practice
Mining as the engine for post-COVID economic recovery
At First Quantum we are committed to extracting resources responsibly and our sustainability strategy is an intrinsic part of everything we do. The people and communities we work in should benefit through opportunities such as employment, business development, education, training and community investment over the long term. Earning and maintaining community support for mining is fundamental to our success and as such we listen to and communicate with stakeholders and local communities openly about our activities, issues and future plans.
Kalumbila Town, ESG that outlives us
Long-lasting impacts that continue well beyond the company’s lifespan are what we most hope to set in motion. Many years before ‘ESG’ became a buzzword, we put our heads together to consider what impact we wished to have on Zambia’s environment, and its society. We knew it had to be foresight – not hindsight or reactive decisions – that informed our approach to creating lasting positive impacts in Zambia. It is this deliberate stepping back and taking the long view that has shaped our philosophy. Nowhere is this ethos better represented than in our approach to Kalumbila Town, the changemaker that we are most proud of and humbled by at the same time. It is by far the most ambitious project we have ever undertaken in Zambia, and it was driven by a clear vision that we continue to embrace.
We work in partnership with the North Western Chamber of Commerce at Kalumbila Town and also at our Sentinel and Kansanshi mines to promote local business development and access for local business into the mine and town supply chains. A number of programs for local procurement cover training of local business proprietors and staff, assistance with registration and administrative processes, access to local procurement processes and establishment of cooperative business enterprises in the local community. We are committed to ongoing support to local business in Zambia to ensure the benefits of economic activity spin off into the local community.
A strong and successful start in mining for Panama
In Cobre Panamá, First Quantum has one of the world’s largest new copper mines. Located in the mountains of the province of Colón in the Atlantic sector of the Republic of Panama, Cobre Panamá is more than a mine – it is an industrial complex that has four components: mine, process plant, power plant and port that employs more than 3,500 people, more than 90% Panamanians, using state-of-the-art technology and infrastructure that is expected to operate for around 40 years.
Partnering with the Panama Chamber of Commerce, our Cobre Panama mine energizes the local economy, through the services that we contract locally, the generation of employment, the taxes and social security contributions that we pay as well as the exports of our products. Cobre Panama enjoys a close working relationship with the Chamber of Commerce, including on post-Covid economic reactivation. We recently sponsored a Chamber event on this issue, through which we briefed local businesses on our business needs and on how they could engage with the project. The mine is also engaged in outreach with the regional Chambers close to the mine, looking to ensure that local businesses have the opportunity to pursue business with us. It is notable too that there is a natural alignment of views between Cobre Panama and the Chamber of Commerce on issues that are of fundamental importance to the private sector, notably legal security and the operation of the free market. We regard the Chamber as an important partner in Panama.
Matthews Mulelema is 24 years old and lives in Kalumbila south. He has lived there for 4 years and has 3 children. He received financial compensation from FQM. He is a farmer and is pictured here with his maize crops. He has never attened an FQM conservation farming workshop but having seen the results of neighbouring farmers he began to implent conservation farming technique. Impressed by this years yield he intends to enroll in the FQM conservation classes next year to further refine his newly acquired skills.
Who are we
Bridgehead is a go-to-market agency that specialises in helping scale-ups & start-ups grow and expand in their home and international markets. Our experts across Europe & North America not only create world class strategic go-to-market plans, but most importantly, implement them.
What makes us different
We create and deliver. Using our proven blueprints and methodology, we accelerate market entry by winning business and securing purchase orders for our clients, opening doors to our channel partners and achieving quantifiable results within 90 days. Guaranteed.
- Sales Audit: like an MOT for your sales team, it will identify which elements in your business are obstructing sales growth. It’s an in-depth, objective review of your structure, systems, culture, staff, skills, and strategy with special emphasis on people and motivation, uncovering weaknesses in your sales efforts and clear plan of action for fixing the issues to ensure continued growth is achieved.
- Market Entry Audit: a comprehensive analysis of the political factors, infrastructure, micro and macro economic data, market size and segmentation, industry growth indicators, sales data, localisation requirements, trends and forecasts, as well as the critical competitive insight and much more. It’ll ensure you have a laser focused approach when entering new markets and win business rapidly from the outset.
- Go-To-Market Strategy: a detailed blueprint for how we will successfully deliver your unique value proposition and reach the chosen target markets, channels and customers to achieve a competitive advantage. A focused plan for how to grow your business, acquire market share and maximise the opportunities that exist in the market.
- Implementation: leveraging our network of experts throughout Europe & North America, we will implement your strategies and action plans to an accelerated success. You will reap the benefits of rapid success, without any stress, with quantifiable results within 90 days… guaranteed. From part-time Sales and Commercial Directors through to SDR and telemarketing services Bridgehead has your outsourced sales team covered.
Proof is in the pudding
We have over the past 12 years helped over 70 companies achieve multi millions pounds in revenues, some highlights include:
- Taken a European clients from failing to establish themselves in the UK to having 650+ retailers showcasing their product
- Achieved a pipeline of over £2m inside 6 months for a SaaS SME
- Secured sales with with key distributors and channel partners, with purchase orders value of £500,000 achieved in 90 days for a UK wearables brand
- Listed a UK start-up in key tier 1 retailers in Canada, generating over $1m revenue within 18 months
- Grown a UK Scale-up’s sales pipeline from £4m to £18m in 9 months
- Implemented a Sales Audit for a UK SME, subsequently achieving target for the following 2 months for the first time in 10 years
Don’t wait – let’s have a 20 minute discovery call to explore your full potential today. The first businesses to purchase either of the audits will receive a 50% discount, with the next 5 receiving 25% off – quote the code ICCTFP.
Trade rules often date back decades, if not centuries in some cases. It shouldn’t be a surprise that these rules don’t always reflect our current challenges, particularly in relation to climate change, biodiversity and the environment all of which have grown immensely in significance and importance over recent years. We also live in an increasingly complex global policy landscape where national policies and laws need to respond to and help solve global challenges and where governments and Parliaments have an important role to play at both national and international level to scrutinise and monitor the implementation of law as well as review, reform and align laws to deliver coherent outcomes as part of the global community.
The APPG for Trade & Export Promotion was founded in September 2020
Nowhere is this more important than when acting to solve the climate crisis and deliver our ambition to be net zero by 2050. Trade has a critical role to play in helping deliver this goal and making sure that the trading environment is enabling this to happen, that our exports and investment are promoting green goods, services and technologies and that UK trade finance is incentivising and facilitating all of this to happen. We also need to ensure that the activities we support aren’t distorting the market in any way either here or overseas and that there is a level playing field for all so we don’t unintentionally incentivise bad practice to happen elsewhere to avoid the rules.
Tackling carbon ‘leakage’ is one good example where there needs to be coordination between trade and environment rules to stop companies shifting operations to other countries with less stringent rules to avoid complying. Similarly the need to align agriculture, trade and environment rules to ensure we are promoting sustainable ‘farm to fork’ strategies. The recent case of Italian bees getting stuck at the Irish border because they didn’t meet new trade rules coming into the UK is another good example. It transpired that queen bees can be imported but worker bees cannot which makes little sense when we have a biodiversity crisis.
As an All-Party Parliamentary Group, we can help this effort in several areas. Firstly in our most recent recommendations to government, we are calling for a strategic trade framework that clearly sets out how trade will help deliver net zero, how we will develop new green industrial capabilities that we can export to the rest of the world and ensure the UK is at the forefront on a race to the top on green jobs and international labour and environmental standards.
At the next evidence session we will be reviewing and scrutinising what the UK is doing in its trade deals to promote net zero and pressing for ambitious agreements that raise the bar, promote a level playing field and help support developing countries become climate resilient. We will also be seeking to ensure the UK is playing its full part at the World Trade Organization to support Costa Rica and others who are leading efforts to align global trade and climate rules.
We can solve the climate crisis if we work together and play our part in leading by example through our trade dialogues with the rest of the world.
Baroness Mobarik CBE
Vice Chair – The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Trade and Export Promotion
All-Party Parliamentary Groups are informal groups of Members of both Houses with a common interest in particular issues. This is not an official article of the House of Commons or the House of Lords. It has not been approved by either House or its committees.
Crystal Doors, which has completely transformed its factory in response to the climate emergency, is one of just 17 organisations to be honoured with a Queen’s Award for Enterprise for Sustainable Development ahead of the COP26 climate summit in November.
Crystal Doors manufactures vinyl-wrapped doors and components for kitchens, bedrooms and bathrooms, employing 34 people with the average living within three miles of the factory in the centre of Rochdale. The company has been recognised with the prestigious national award after pioneering an innovative approach to achieving net zero manufacturing.
A radical cashflow neutral sustainability programme – featuring smart autonomous machinery, energy efficient technologies, solar panels, electric vehicles, carbon literacy training and biomass heating fuelled by the factory’s own waste – has reduced Crystal Doors’ direct carbon footprint by nearly 80% in just than five years. The measures are also saving nearly £200,000 a year in energy and material savings, showing that it is both possible and desirable for businesses to take action on their climate impact.
Managing Director Richard Hagan, who first recognised the need to act after environmental concerns nearly closed the factory in 2015, said: “The science says we only have a few years of inaction left before achieving our global agreements on greenhouse gas emissions become impossible. This is our collective responsibility as businesses, and we want to show that even smaller organisations with tight purse strings can play their part.”
The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise, established in 1965, are the most prestigious business awards in the UK. Winning businesses are able to use the esteemed Queen’s Awards emblem for the next five years. Crystal Doors is the first ever Rochdale business to win the award.
“We’re proud of our industrial heritage here in Rochdale and the wider North,” Richard added. “It’s even more important we kickstart the transition to a green economy in economically deprived areas like ours, where we can create high quality green jobs for local communities.”
Rochdale MP, Tony Lloyd, said: “Rochdale has set an ambitious target to be carbon neutral by 2038, far ahead of the UK’s 2050 target. If the government puts the right policies in place, the North of England has enormous potential to use its industrial expertise to drive a green industrial revolution and green recovery in the UK. Congratulations to Richard and Crystal Doors for their well-deserved Queen’s Award win and for showing us all what’s possible.”
Crystal Doors is now planning to reach full carbon neutrality across its entire supply chain in time for the UN COP26 climate summit in Glasgow in November, partly by ending work with companies that have not committed to net zero themselves.
About Crystal Doors
Established in 1994 in the centre of Rochdale, Crystal Doors are specialists in vinyl-wrapped doors and component manufacture for kitchens, bedrooms, bathrooms and a range of other markets including hotels, hospitals, shop fitting and restaurants. We switched production within 3 hours to 24/7 for the Nightingale hospital overbed urgent demand as a manufacturer of vinyl-wrapped doors using state-of-the-art technology for both one-off items and volume production, using quality raw materials from sustainable forests.
Climate change and the need to reorient the global economy towards decarbonisation is a key global challenge. In 2015, national governments from 196 countries committed to reducing emissions in line with temperatures rising by 1.5°C by 2050 as part of the Paris Agreement. Governments cannot achieve this target alone: cities, businesses, investors and asset owners must help mobilise the real economy to meet these targets.
The next 10 years will be a decade for delivery as regulatory, transition and physical climate risks increasingly become investment risks. For example, if governments agree to implement a global carbon price on all sectors – a key topic for COP26 later this year – of $100/tonne in line with 1.5°C scenarios, approximately 12-16% of global equity earnings are at risk, according to our research.
Additionally, for those businesses which are harder to decarbonise, the risk of “stranded assets” turning into liabilities on balance sheets, could be a significant factor in eroding a company’s value and impacting performance.
Finally, the physical cost of climate change has the potential to be significant for companies. Our research suggests that the cost to some companies of insuring their assets against the impacts of climate change could equate to more than 4% of their market values – for example in the case of utilities, oil and gas.
We believe investing in companies that do not make this transition and do not act to reduce these risks could have material negative financial implications for our clients. Conversely, investing in companies that are transitioning and innovating should provide investment upside over the longer term. This is why in December 2020 we joined 30 other asset managers, representing $9trillion in total assets under management, in making a net zero commitment. This commitment supports the goal of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 or sooner.
At the start of this year, our parent group Schroders wrote to the UK’s 350 largest companies asking them to publish detailed and fully-costed transition plans on climate change. The detail is crucial. We want to see exactly how each company will play its part as the UK economy re-orientates towards the government’s target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. We have started by contacting companies in the FTSE 350 index but, looking ahead, we will expect the same progress beyond these shores. We would like to see all medium and large companies, public and private, and regardless of where they are listed, publish their plans.
At Cazenove Capital, more specifically, our net zero ambition is made even more challenging by the fact that we are significant investors in other managers’ funds, as well as investing directly in companies. However, this means we have an opportunity to shape the wider investment community and use our influence to create change. As part of our net zero approach, we have therefore committed to:
Transitioning our assets under discretionary management to achieve emissions reductions by 2030, consistent with a fair share of 50% global reduction in CO2.
Work in partnership with our underlying asset managers on decarbonisation goals consistent with an ambition to reach net zero emissions by 2050 or sooner, engaging with them on these goals at both a corporate level and with the individual managers of the strategies we hold.
Report to The Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures and publish an annual climate action plan from January 2022, reporting on our progress through 2030 and beyond.
We are able to understand the extent to which other investors incorporate climate change and more broadly where they are on their sustainability journeys, thanks to our proprietary annual ESG questionnaire. Last year, we sent the questionnaire to 140 investment managers, responsible for the management of £39 trillion in assets. These are managers that we have chosen to invest with on behalf of our clients.
As part of our ongoing engagements with managers and our net zero commitment, in December 2020 we contacted all 140 of our managers to ask if they have, or intended to make, a net zero commitment. Over 50% have now responded – of those, 14% have made a commitment, 10% intend to make one before COP26, and 62% are considering one, whilst only 14% have not considered one yet. These initial findings are encouraging and we will continue to use our influence to push for change.
This article is issued in the UK by Cazenove Capital which is part of the Schroders Group and is a trading name of Schroder & Co. Limited, 1 London Wall Place, London, EC2Y 5AU. Authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Issued in the Channel Islands by Cazenove Capital which is part of the Schroder Group and is a trading name of Schroders (C.I.) Limited, licensed and regulated by the Guernsey Financial Services Commission for banking and investment business. Nothing in this document should be deemed to constitute the provision of financial, investment or other professional advice in any way. Past performance is not a guide to future performance. The value of an investment and the income from it may go down as well as up and investors may not get back the amount originally invested. This document may include forward-looking statements that are based upon our current opinions, expectations and projections. Exchange rate changes may cause the value of any overseas investments to rise or fall. We undertake no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements. Actual results could differ materially from those anticipated in the forward-looking statements. All data contained within this document is sourced from Cazenove Capital unless otherwise stated. For your security communications may be recorded and monitored.
The UK has made giant strides towards its net zero target in the last thirty years. Low carbon electricity now makes up half of the UK’s energy supply and emissions have been cut to near half of 1990 levels. But to date the drive to net zero has had little impact on consumers, or in reality required consumers to change their behaviours or choices. This is all changing.
The coming decade will witness a convergence of established consumer trends to ‘go green’ with a more urgent legislative agenda (loosely flagged in the ten point plan for a ‘green industrial revolution’). Challenges and opportunities for business will clearly flow and perhaps are best summarised by the Committee for Climate Change (the body responsible for the UK’s pathway to net zero and carbon budgets). Over 40% of the carbon reduction scenarios outlined by the CCC to 2035 involve consumers making different choices. What we eat, drive, the products we buy and how we heat our homes are all set to change drastically.
Low carbon electricity now makes up half of the UK’s energy supply and emissions have been cut to near half of 1990 levels
Survey after survey reveals consumer concern about climate change and the wider environmental crisis. And we can see this translate into consumer spending habits. In 2019 UK consumers spent £41 billion on ‘ethical’ goods and services, roughly four times as much as two decades ago.
We also know consumer concerns about the environment extend to how they see Britain’s future as a global trading nation after leaving the European Union. When Which? carried out a series of in-depth conversations on future trade policy with almost 100 people from five regions around the UK, participants saw a real opportunity to promote green trade that would benefit not only the UK, but the whole world.
Yet the change we have seen to date in consumer behaviour is light years away from the changes around the corner. To meet net zero out go gas boilers and in come electric heat pumps, as 29 million homes undergo a low-carbon change. Likewise, it’s goodbye to petrol and diesel as 32 million cars go electric, while we need to cut our meat and dairy consumption by a fifth.
Underpinning these shifts are four basic behaviour steps consumers will take to ‘go green’. Stopping or reducing consumption, for instance eating less meat or buying fewer goods. Buying green, such as switching to an electric car, or a renewable energy supplier. Conserving resources, repairing and re-using products, switching appliances off and insulating their homes. And finally disposing more sustainably, be that reducing food waste or recycling more effectively.
In 2019 UK consumers spent £41 billion on ‘ethical’ goods and services, roughly four times as much as two decades ago
But it is clear there are significant barriers to consumers ‘going green’ and often a lack of knowledge or dissonance between activity and impact. For instance, though 80% of consumers are concerned about climate change only half are aware that gas boilers produce emissions.
Most consumers cite lack of time and knowledge but the picture is a more complex web of practical and personal barriers. From a practical perspective the clear availability of alternatives, say a reliable public transport network over the ease and convenience of driving a car, and simply not having the right information to make an informed choice, can make sustainable decision-making complex and overwhelming. For instance, inconsistent plastic labelling and a postcode lottery of waste recycling options makes simple disposal a confusing everyday task. Throw in greenwashing and feelings of mistrust and powerlessness add to the sense of consumer confusion.
Consumers typically make choices based on a combination of factors – for instance choosing solar panels to save on energy bills, or ditching the car to ride a bike for healthy lifestyle choices. The importance of convenience, value and lifestyle mean the ‘go green’ choice is rarely made in isolation.
But above all else it is cost that is cited as the key barrier. For instance, the price of electric cars is prohibitive and the fragmented and confusing public charging network ensures early adopters either have to be extremely brave and good planners or have off-road parking and the means to get a charger installed at home. Though there is evidence to show that those on higher incomes are indeed willing to pay the premium, making ‘going green’ just for the wealthy would inevitably mean the UK misses hitting its net zero climate targets.
Most consumers say they are happy to make the big changes to meet net zero – making their homes more energy efficient, switching to low-carbon heating and switching to an electric car. But it’s clear they need help, advice and financial support to make that switch and overcome the barriers to change.
Most see government as having the key role here but from business, clarity, simplicity and affordable options are vital too. It’s clear that the challenge ahead is huge, but so are the potential rewards for businesses that take time to really understand consumer concerns and priorities around ‘going green’.
Across the UK, and around the world, a broadening array of businesses and governments are adopting circular economy strategies and policies. In the face of vast environmental challenges, the driver of circular economy efforts is the desire to move from a ‘take-make-waste’ economic model toward ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ approaches.
A growing number of businesses – including a vast array of SMEs – is working to promote circularity in business operations and in global supply chains
A growing number of businesses – including a vast array of SMEs – is working to promote circularity in business operations and in global supply chains. Beyond any environmental motivation, they are doing so because it makes good commercial sense to maximise resource efficiency and reduce waste. At the same time, there is also a growing focus on ensuring that circular economy policies and business models focus on decarbonization as well as protecting, restoring and regenerating nature.
Critically, consumers are playing a leading role in pushing for this change, demanding goods that are better for the environment. Investors too are increasingly focused on the environmental credentials of their investment portfolios.
Much of the attention to the circular economy focuses on end-of-life waste issues, such as improved waste collection and recycling, but the business opportunities for SMEs are increasingly linked to two other key pillars of the circular economy approach – finding ways to reduce resource use and to re-use materials and products that otherwise become waste. Indeed, the good news for SMEs is that they are already often at the forefront of innovation, R&D, and piloting successful new products and business models.
In terms of research, development, for instance, SMEs are inventing and promoting substitutes to plastic, re-usable and recyclable products, and less resource-intensive materials. SMEs are also finding business opportunities in the eco-design of more durable, repairable goods and in the use of recycled materials. There are also tremendous opportunities for SMEs in services related to the repairing of products, as well as their disassembly and remanufacturing. It is also small businesses that are showing the possibilities for re-use and re-fill business models that seek to phase out unnecessary and environmentally-harmful packaging. A core area of business growth arising from the circular economy will be markets for the provision of services, such as for repair and maintenance, recycling, re-fill retail models, and the sharing and leasing of products.
To incentivize a more circular economy, businesses will need policy support national and international policy frameworks. SMEs also have a role to play in calling on governments to ensure that national policy frameworks, along with trade policy frameworks, support businesses – large and small – around the world keen to adapt their products and business models to circular economy principles. Key policies in this regard will be ones that aim to phase-out unsustainable products (such as single use plastic packaging), end built-in obsolescence (which can reduce the scale of e-waste), support decarbonization and dematerialization in key sectors, design repairable products that can be upgraded rather than discarded (such as of household goods), promoting ‘refill’ retail models, and support the refurbishment and remanufacture of used products.
In pursuing these circular economy opportunities, many SMEs in the UK are already working with businesses and supply chain partners across the world. They may seek, for instance, to export their products or services to other markets or to import recycled materials as inputs into their products. The good news here is that many countries around the world are also adopting circular economy strategies, from China to Ghana, expanding the opportunities for green business.
On the ‘reduce’ dimension of the circular economy, trade policy can support efforts to phase out unsustainable production and consumption. Already, for instance, governments are taking action to reduce or phase out trade in environmentally sensitive and harmful goods, making way for greener products.
In terms of re-use, trade policy can play a role in promoting markets for repairable products and substitutes for wasteful products (such as single use plastics), as well as for waste management and recycling technologies. Trade policy makers can also support efforts to develop the international standards that a circular economy demands – including on products characteristics and design that make re-use and recycling easier. SMEs can call on trade policy makers to build cooperation that facilitates trade in services that support the circular economy as well as trade in goods destined for disassembly, reuse and recycling, as well as recycled and secondary materials that can be re-used as inputs in further production. They can call on government to promote access to international markets for the green goods, they produce, through tariff liberalization, trade rules, and customs classifications and procedures that favour green goods.
Critically, SMEs will also have a key role to play in ensuring that the ‘green’ products and services they propose – and international trade policy frameworks for a circular economy – are environmentally credible. Here a word of caution is vital.
Some businesses and governments promote the export of waste to developing countries on the grounds that ‘recycling’ of such products abroad is economically efficiency and is part of the circular economy vision. However, growing evidence of export of e-waste, plastic waste and textiles waste to developing countries with insufficient capacity to manage even their domestic waste streams in environmentally sound manner, and only a fraction of the recycling capacity requires, is not what the circular economy is about. Nor does off-shoring hazardous and contaminated waste to developing countries have a place in a circular economy vision. Similarly, the export of products that are not recyclable, reusable, or repairable, and that contain dangerous chemicals, is also not part of a circular economy vision. Such products eventually become part of the waste stream that few countries can manage, and provoke a range of environmental and health hazards for consumers and societies.
The public backlash and consumer skepticism is a risk that no SME can afford. On this point, SMEs have a self-interest in advocating for high ambition environmental laws, regulations and standards at home and across international supply chains that provide a clear and transparent framework for business and ensures that purported environmental benefits are real.
Consumers and governments alike are calling for less wasteful, more resource-efficient, low carbon and nature positive production and trade. The circular economy vision is a vital part of the picture and offers a myriad of business opportunities. Agile, flexible, entrepreneurial and innovative, SMEs are uniquely positioned to help lead the way.
Whilst the UK starts to put the policies in place to get on track to its net zero goal by 2050, attention is often on the more visible things like renewable technologies, and the more contentious issues such as the shifts in behaviour. However, we often forget to mention the resources that are needed to build the economy in the first place. Whilst resource efficiency is often overlooked, it is a virtually untapped, but potentially powerful tool for tackling carbon emissions.
A circular economy as part of a programme of dramatically cutting resource use could not only strengthen the UK economy and support jobs in regions across the UK, but also put the UK at the forefront of the global low carbon transition.
Supporting a green economy recovery
As the UK starts to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, it finds itself in a place of economic uncertainty and huge unemployment. A transformation to a more circular economy, by encouraging and investing in recycling, buying services rather than products, biorefining, reuse and remanufacturing, could create more than half a million jobs.
And improving resource efficiency could add £10 billion a year in profits to the bottom line of UK manufacturing firms. What is more, a transformation to a more circular economy, by encouraging and investing in recycling, buying services rather than products, biorefining, reuse and remanufacturing, would create jobs at different skill levels right across the country. In many cases, these would be jobs created outside London and the South East and would therefore also help to support the governments levelling up programme.
Securing the future of net zero
A circular economy is also vital to the shift to net zero. We cannot assume we will have the resources to deploy the renewable technologies we want to unless we get much wiser about how we use, reuse, and recycle materials in the first place.
For example, the UK is currently 100 per cent reliant on imports of the essential critical minerals (CRMs) needed to produce net zero infrastructure like wind turbines and electric vehicles. However, the human and environmental costs of extracting these resources are significant. For example, cobalt which is vital for EV batteries, has been associated with human rights abuses in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which provides more than half of the world’s supply. Furthermore, mining a tonne of some rare earth elements, which are needed to make both EV motors and wind turbines, can produce up to 2,000 tonnes of hazardous waste.
A transformation to a more circular economy, by encouraging and investing in recycling, buying services rather than products, biorefining, reuse and remanufacturing, could create more than half a million jobs
A 2018 Green Alliance report, conducted for our Circular Economy Task Force, demonstrated that, by acting now to create markets for secondary CRMs, the government could ensure that resources from discarded products, which would otherwise be wasted, could reduce our reliance on imports. Reused or recycled material could supply over a third of domestic rare earth element demand and nearly half of domestic cobalt demand for low carbon industries by 2035.
This can also help to lower supply chain risks to volatile resources markets and increase business resilience. Better product design and reusing highly quality domestically recovered materials, product parts and products, instead of using new resources, would ensure more resilient supply chains by reducing the need for the materials and providing a domestic source of reprocessed material to meet some of the demand.
What needs to change
Despite the clear benefits of moving to a circular economy, it has received very little government funding, beyond that for research. At Green Alliance, we want to see an investment of at least £400 million over the next five years as a kick starter fund to help businesses to deliver carbon savings and increase productivity through innovative business models and better design, reuse, and refurbishment, as well as high-quality recycling services.
Whilst we know that a shift to net zero will require huge effort from all sectors of the economy, we have a tool in our armoury to help us achieve it – a circular economy.
As the UK COP26 Presidency gathers momentum toward the November 2021 Glasgow COP, non-party participants from all sectors of business, industry and non-public enterprise are stepping up to join the UNFCCC Race to Zero.
The Race to Zero campaign seeks to rally leadership and support across businesses, cities, regions, investors. The goal is to achieve a healthy, resilient, zero carbon recovery that prevents future threats, creates decent jobs, and unlocks inclusive, sustainable growth. The UNFCCC Race to Zero Climate Action Pathways comprise comprehensive roadmaps to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement across sectors.
The legal instrument most readily available to the private sector is the contract
Sectoral transition requires a response across sectors from government, cities, regions and private business and industry. A key instrument to facilitate and accelerate transition is the law. The legal industry has a critical role to play in mobilising the law to help achieve the Race to Zero goals and ambitions set by public and non-public actors alike.
International law agreements such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Paris Agreement set globally agreed decarbonisation goals. Other international treaties separately deal with environment, trade, investment, aviation and shipping, intellectual property and human rights. All govern relations between states. All may be utilised to contribute to achieving global objectives across sectors.
At state level, individual governments, and to some extent cities and regions, have the power to accelerate change through policy, regulation and legislation. Civil society pressures governments to increase ambition through democratic process and, in some cases, legal proceedings holding them to account for climate goals.
The legal instrument most readily available to the private sector is the contract. In its provision of services to business and industry, the ICC, through its Commission on Commercial Law and Practice, has contributed to the development of standard industry model contracts and clauses. Private commercial lawyers, both within law firms and inhouse, negotiate, implement and enforce contracts day-to-day. These contracts are the connective tissue that bind sector relationships and systems together to enable the wheels of commerce to continue to turn.
The ICC Commission and Court of Arbitration play an instrumental and world leading role in the enforcement of contracts through dispute resolution outside national courts.
Commercial contracts offer a means by which private sector can drive the upgrade of sectors of the global economy to deliver a healthy, resilient, zero-carbon future and whole-economy transformation, including in harder to abate sectors. Contracts govern each and every relationship that provides a good or service within business and industry. These include but are not limited to goods and services for the purpose of financing and investment, procurement, infrastructure, manufacturing, technology sharing, trading, insurance and retail. Most modern contracts are based on standard form industry precedents that have developed within sectors and industries. As commercial parties seek certainty, standard form contracts tend not to change dramatically over time.
As private sector moves through transition, lawyers are already engaged in drafting new instruments or suites of contracts for sale and purchase of new kinds of goods and services. Banks are innovating in the provision of new ‘green’ financial services products, such as new green bonds. Industry groups like Terrawatt have partnered with the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) to develop a suite of supply and demand side solar power contracts. Currently Standard Chartered Bank and McKinsey are working on controls required to scale up voluntary carbon markets, and in that context examining the role of harmonized contractual standards and primary and secondary trading instruments.
The contractual territory that remains relatively untouched is the body of existing and long-established contractual instruments that govern standard and existing private law relations. Just as financial institutions have been encouraged to shift focus from ‘green finance’ (new ‘green’ products) to ‘financing green’ (standard banking services that align with customer climate goals), commercial legal services is capable of a similar transition. Commercial lawyers, in law firms and inhouse, have the skills, the tools and the talent to innovate not just in designing new products but in transforming existing standard form legal contracts into instruments that enable the contracting parties better to align with, facilitate and accelerate transition within their sectors, in accordance with their own stated net zero ambitions.
Commercial lawyers can help convert net zero ambitions into net zero obligations.
Like much of the Climate Action Pathways roadmaps, this exercise cannot be conducted in a vacuum. It requires coalition and cooperation across expertise and disciplines, across sectors. The Mission Possible Partnership, run by a lawyer, is already working on tools to design and execute net zero pathways for harder to abate industries, including across their customers, suppliers and capital providers. Other industry groups are undertaking similar exercise. For each of them, ultimately, the pathway will take them to the contracts. Commercial contracts are indeed the connective tissue within systems and will be instrumental in their transition.
Commercial lawyers are increasingly acknowledging this opportunity and imperative. There is no single approach or answer, save to ensure that commercial lawyers are engaged as much as possible in the Race to Zero and in the journey to COP26. The UK, and in particular the City of London, is headquarters to some of the largest law firms in the world. These firms have tremendous global footprint and potential impact. London dispute resolution is world renown, both the court system and as a seat for international commercial arbitration. English law remains one of the single most popular choice of governing law in international agreements across sectors.
CEOs should be alert to the opportunity to harness the extraordinary resource of commercial legal services both in law firms and inhouse and deploy it to help implement individual business transition plans as well as broader sectoral transition. The flip side is that those same lawyers have the expertise to assist businesses to manage risk in this new and uncertain emerging landscape of transition to net zero.