5 minute read 22 Apr 2021
Boy in field with windmills

Why every day needs to be Earth Day

By Hywel Ball

UK Chair and UK&I Regional Managing Partner, Ernst & Young LLP

UK Chair and UK&I Regional Managing Partner. Leading our 17,000 people in the UK. FTSE 100 audit partner. Father of three and Welsh rugby fan.

5 minute read 22 Apr 2021

We are rising to the climate change challenge with a new initiative to help the UK achieve its green ambitions.

In brief

  • On Earth Day 2021, we reflect on our actions as individuals and organisations – and announce an exciting new initiative.
  • EY is addressing climate change by bringing business and young people together to help turn the UK Government’s ambition for a green industrial revolution into action.
  • Find out more about how we are helping generate a multi-generational response to the global systemic challenge posed by climate change.

Today marks Earth Day, an annual event that brings together millions of people from around the world in support of the environment. This provides the perfect opportunity to reflect on our actions as individuals and organisations - and to announce an exciting new initiative.

Earlier this year, I described how proud I was of EY’s global commitment to achieve net-zero by 2025. Yet, whilst this represents a big step for EY, it is clearly a small one in the wider context of global climate change. More needs to be done and this will require unprecedented levels of urgent action by both businesses and the government. This is where we can leverage our position as a convenor, bringing together our people, skills, clients and contacts to enable and support change. 

I am therefore pleased to announce that we are taking a major step in this direction by designing and hosting the Climate Business Forum (CBF). This brings business and young people together to help turn the UK Government’s ambition for a green industrial revolution into action.

By doing do so we can not only play our part, but also help others to do the same. And what better time to create and support new ways of addressing climate change than in the year when the UK hosts and chairs the UN Climate Change Conference COP26? It will be pivotal to how we address climate change in the UK and across the world.

The power of purpose

Before telling you more about the initiative, I want to take a moment to explain why climate change, as well as other non-financial issues such as social inequality, diversity and inclusion are important to me as an individual and to EY.

The answer is simple. It relates directly to our purpose. Building a better working world means more to us than just helping individual businesses respond to disruptive forces. It also means acting to make the world as a whole work better. Clearly, this cannot happen without concerted action on climate change. 

It is also vital to our clients. Many businesses now recognise that, rather than a trade-off between doing good and making a good return, the two actually align, with long-term value the common aim. Or, to put it more simply, leaders are increasingly seeing that there is no such thing as a long-term investment on an unsustainable planet.

Launching the Climate Business Forum (CBF)

As a trusted advisor to businesses and governments, we hope that our new initiative - the Climate Business Forum - will help to bridge the gap between green ambition and action. Acknowledging the role of all stakeholders in unlocking these complex issues, we will be convening two boards to harness industry and intergenerational thinking:

  1. Business Leaders Board: Composed of senior industry leaders from all sectors who have an influence over industry-wide decarbonisation and the ability to drive change.
  2. Future Leaders Board: A group of 18-30 year old professionals, students and entrepreneurs who will tackle the same challenge addressing our long-term approach to achieving prosperous decarbonisation.

It will do so by unlocking the potential of the private sector to drive change to support the transition to a net-zero economy and will also harness the next generation of leadership insights. It’s vital that we listen to both leaders of today and tomorrow as climate change will be one of the defining issues of this generation.

Together these groups have three main objectives:

  • Gain clarity on the actions required to deliver against the UK’s decarbonisation ambition for the green industrial revolution.
  • Encourage alignment between government and businesses on the actions that need to be undertaken.
  • Create a multi-generational response to the global systemic challenge posed by climate change ahead of COP26.

Key issues and actions

Discussions will be structured around four key topics related to the UK’s transition to net-zero emissions:

  • Consumer-driven decarbonisation
  • The creation of one million climate jobs
  • A green, levelled-up UK
  • How the UK can become a global leader in decarbonisation

Outputs from the forums - which will be hosted at EY’s Sustainability Centre of Excellence in London - will be shared and discussed with the Government. This will ensure actions are aligned with Government proposals and will determine an ongoing commitment to drive the message and ambitions across business and society.

By generating a commitment from UK business - and an explicit ask of Government - our aim is to set out the specific route map needed to turn the UK’s decarbonisation and economic growth ambitions into reality.

Seizing the opportunity together

I believe that the UK has an opportunity to take the lead in the green industrial revolution. Through this initiative, and indeed all our work, EY remains fully committed to helping our people, clients and government to achieve this goal. 

Summary

EY is launching a new initiative – the UK Climate Business Forum – to bring businesses, future leaders and Government together to help drive concerted action on climate change. 

About this article

By Hywel Ball

UK Chair and UK&I Regional Managing Partner, Ernst & Young LLP

UK Chair and UK&I Regional Managing Partner. Leading our 17,000 people in the UK. FTSE 100 audit partner. Father of three and Welsh rugby fan.