The Net Zero Festival 2023
On 31st October, MyCarbon engaged with a whirlwind of sustainability discussions, listened to some great climate poetry, and saw an unexpected protest at the Net Zero Festival 2023 in London.
We could easily write an essay on everything we learned and saw. However, to stay concise, we present our five key takeaways from the Net Zero Festival 2023.
1: The Need For Urgency
Humanity's race to net-zero is urgent. We face severe consequences for our planet and future generations if climate change goes unchecked.
Solitaire, a sustainability communicator, urged us to burst our industry bubble and engage with the broader public.
She highlighted that we need to interact with those outside the bubble to contextualise our ambition.
She also stated that social media algorithms are becoming increasing polarising in the content they deliver to us. It can be useful to create separate social media accounts to see the world through the eyes of others.
Farhana, a lawyer and activist, called for immediate action to preserve a sustainable planet for future generations.
She highlighted the responsibility we collectively have to future generation, remarking that change isn’t happening fast enough.
2: Hot Poets!
During lunchtime, we were fortunate to be introduced to the hot poets.
Now their name isn’t what first springs to mind, instead, they discuss the climate crisis through verse.
Here's an example of their work:
3: How Many Standards?!
Thoughout the day, many discussions revolved around sustainability standards and the industry's impact on driving change.
Recognised standards and the obligation to report to them are crucial; without them, industry transformation would be limited. It was valuable to hear about the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), Transition Plan Taskforce (TPT), International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) and the prominent US Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).
That's already a lot of acronyms!
Fortunately for us all, a significant portion of the talks pointed out that these standards are likely to converge in the future.
However, it is still a complicated industry, check out our certify page to get started on understanding reporting standards.
4: Extinction Rebellion?
When we first entered the conference, an Extinction Rebellion (XR) member handed each of us a leaflet as we entered the conference.
It highlighted issues associated with Coca-Cola (amongst other giants) sponsoring the event.
Then once we went through the doors, like at most conferences, we went through a bag search.
However, it quickly became obvious to us that the primary goal of the bag search was to look for banners and other protest materials.
Then came one of the first, non-keynote, speeches including a speaker from "Coca-Cola Europacific Partners".
During the talk, a protester walked on stage, poured a can of coke on his own head, and was then given the floor to make his point:
Largely, we are glad it was part of a balanced, and ultimately nuanced, discussion, alongside Coca Cola's Science-Based Targets.
Science-Based Targets aren't a licence to pollute or perpetuate plastic use, but they are the gold standard of emission reduction strategies, check out our reduce page to learn more.
We asked Sam Cande for her thoughts on the situation and here's what she said:
"I'm delighted to have captured this moment on film and replayed the protester's message multiple times.
While I disagree with Coca-Cola's sponsorship of this event, their presence due to the protester's speech sparked a vital conversation about their responsibility as a corporation. It's worth pondering whether we can glean insights from Coca-Cola.
If we seek a solution to reduce plastic and drive innovation in this domain, it's likely to come from a company with billions of financial resources. That said I don’t think anyone was under the illusion about their intentions."
5: Politics & The Net-Zero 'Culture War'
And to close the day, we attended a keynote interview with Leo Hickmann of Carbon Brief, and a key notespeech by Alastair Campbell, former strategist of Tony Blair and podcaster with The Rest Is Politics.
The Culture War:
Leo Hickmann pointed out that UK politics has been pulling net-zero into a culture war in recent months since the Uxbridge bi-election.
He discussed how this has been shown recently by the press conference in September to water down green policies, as well as the reports by Civitas, indicating that net-zero “could cost households £6,000 a year”.
Leo stated that Carbon Breif writer Simon Evans had reached out to the authors of the report, whilst the report was in press embargo.
Simon plead that the report should be immediately redacted, given some glaring mistakes in the maths behind the claims.
This was ignored, yet the report was later redacted due to errors, after spending two days in the media circuit.
Leo had claimed had likely shifted public opinion against net-zero.
Alastair Campbell's speech built upon these themes, discussing how UK politics has been dragging net-zero into a culture war.
However, it's crucial to not be dragged into the politics and remember and perpetuate the message that going green is cheaper, fairer, and would give us better standards of living.
As the Net Zero Festival 2023 concludes, we leave invigorated to assist businesses on their sustainability journeys.
We'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below and if you'd like to get in touch to learn about how you and your business can embark on your carbon journey, get in touch!