Who is responsible for cutting emissions? A guide to understanding the roles we have to play

Who is responsible for cutting emissions?

It’s a question we frequently hear as we imagine you do. If you’re someone who is trying to be greener at home or at work, you might be hearing it from your colleagues and friends too.

“How and why should individuals change how they live, isn’t it the responsibility of government and big business?“

While the answer isn’t straightforward, the short answer is that we all have a role if we are to limit the impact of climate change to 1.5 degrees, and in recent months the importance of individual actions has been recognised at the highest levels.

Companies in the vanguard recognise how crucial engaging stakeholders are in delivering a successful sustainability strategy to deliver the emissions reductions crucial to stem climate change.

Inspired by Paul Dickinson on Outrage + Optimism, we’ve found that you can help people understand the different roles by comparing it to a game of football.

Just like a game of football requires rules, kits, and players to make the ingredients for a great game, sustainability requires collaboration, innovation, and collective action from policymakers, companies, and individuals alike. No one group can do it alone.

Policymakers: The Referees of Sustainability

Much like referees on a football field, policymakers hold the critical responsibility of setting the rules for the game. These rules, in the context of sustainability, translate into policies and regulations that shape our collective efforts to combat climate change.

However, just as referees must cater to diverse traits and emotions of players, policymakers must navigate a complex landscape of stakeholders while ensuring that the game remains fair and inclusive for all. This often means making gradual changes which can often feel like slow progress.  

As sustainability leaders, you can engage with policymakers and advocate for forward-thinking policies that accelerate meaningful progress.

Companies: The Kit Providers and Innovators

In the football analogy, companies are akin to the providers of essential kit. Similarly, companies play a pivotal role in the way the world produces stuff.

Your influence extends beyond mere provision – you have the power to shape how the kit is made, its cost, operations, supply chains, and products. By adopting eco-friendly production methods, optimising resource usage, and embracing circular economy principles, you contribute to a more sustainable kit that benefits everyone.

Never forget the impact you can have through the choices you make where you spend your money and the food you choose to eat.

People: The Players of Positive Change

At the heart of any game are the players who breathe life into the competition, show amazing initiative, and bring flair! With the right rules and kit, individuals can make it happen.

Every member of your organisation has the potential to be a sustainability changemaker. Just as every football player, regardless of skill level, contributes to the game, every individual’s effort counts towards building a more sustainable future.

The true magic of this sustainability game lies when policymakers, companies, and individuals collaborate seamlessly, the collective momentum can drive a pace of change required for us to limit the worst effects of climate change.

As sustainability leaders, you have the unique opportunity to captain your team and catalyse a ripple effect of positive impact. By aligning strategy with your people and policies and empowering your workforce, you pave the way for breakthroughs that can reshape the game and drive us closer to a sustainable future.

Just as a football match comes alive through teamwork, strategy, and passion, so too does our journey toward a greener, more sustainable world. By embracing the analogy presented by Paul Dickinson, you, as sustainability leaders, can inspire change, drive innovation, and champion collective action.

As you navigate your roles as referees, kit providers, and players in this global sustainability game, together, let’s kick-start a new sustainable game that gives everyone a winning feeling.