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World Earth Day: what does it mean to invest?

Earth Day (22 April) once again reminds us all just how urgently we must take action now to avert a climate disaster.

We’re urged this year to Invest In our Planet, which got us thinking about what it means to invest in something.

Financial investment, of course, is what instantly springs to mind. And this is important.

If we look at the response to what is happening in Ukraine, financial investment and the provision of material things – arms, humanitarian aid – is absolutely essential, and requires significant and unplanned funding on the part of donors. In the context of the climate crisis, the extent of funding for new technologies, infrastructure and sustainable development, for example, will dictate whether or not the world’s 1.5 degree warming target will be met.

But at the heart of it, isn’t the real meaning of investment to fully and unreservedly commit to something, carrying with it an acceptance that sacrifices may need to be made, and that comforts we enjoy may not themselves be sustainable?

Going back to the situation in Ukraine, economic sanctions inflict pain on those imposing them just as they do for the recipient. For our planet, the sacrifices that governments, businesses and individuals need to make may well be painful in their own different ways but, if carried out, represent an investment in averting a crisis. Changing the way things are done, in the long term, is true action.

As an employer, and as a company that has an impact – however small – on our wider environment, the responsibility to take action is ours as much as it is anybody else’s.

So how does a company like ours invest in making a difference? In reality the financial investment is the easy bit – we are fortunate in that we don’t rely on carbon-intensive infrastructure that is costly to amend, replace, or even abandon.

So for us it’s about what we can do differently, over what we directly spend money on. As an agency, and wider MISSION group, we’re committed to measuring and reporting our carbon impact, and meeting Science Based Targets. In joining Business Ambition for 1.5°C, we have also become part of Race to Zero, the UN-backed campaign.

These targets hold us to account through behaviours when it comes to travel, energy use and efficiency, all of which requires a focus on educating and training staff, and bringing our clients and suppliers on the same journey.

We don’t think that Earth Day should be an opportunity to address the importance of the climate crisis, just to forget about it afterwards. As with all investments, long-term planning and commitment is what turns them from duds to something truly profitable.

 

 

 

 

 

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