We all have a role to play in cutting emissions

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. In this article we’ll share how we explain this complicated question in a way that both provides people with an answer but also the motivation to take action wherever and whenever they can.

“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. Policy, companies and people all need to play their part doing what they can based on their ability and circumstances. And when everyone plays those roles then progress can be at the speed and scale we need to halve emissions this decade.

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 and each group constantly interacts with the others to shape how quickly they can move forwards.

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. Nowhere is the clearer than in the annual COP process, where 200 countries come together to shape the pathway to Net Zero. Progress often looks way to slow but, stand back, and the incremental change over time is powerful.  

And policy does not sit in isolation. People shape policy through their votes and pressure groups. Companies lobby for change especially with respect to new laws and regulations. What most people want is a clear set of rules that enable companies and people to make more sustainable, cost effective choices.

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.

Company influence extends beyond mere provision. They 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, companies can contribute to a more sustainable kit that benefits everyone.

And just as policy does not sit in isolation neither do companies provide kit to consumers without constant feedback. Buying power is the energy that drives market forces giving an individual the power to vote with their wallet.

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.

Everyone has the potential to be a sustainability changemaker whether at home, in your community or at work. 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.

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.