UK’s Inaugural Climate Week Provides CSR Focus for Business

The UK’s inaugural Climate Week kicks off today (21st March) providing a CSR focus for business to showcase the actions they’re already taking – with the aim of inspiring others.

To mark the start of Climate Week, 100,000 people across the UK will take part in the Climate Week Challenge. This is Britain’s biggest ever environmental competition – involving school children, community groups and businesses. Workers from places as varied as police stations, breweries and large corporate will be taking part.

Until it actually launched (at 9am today) the subject matter of the challenge was a mystery. However, as someone who has been involved in spreading the word about Climate Week – I had an early heads up. All 100,000 people will simultaneously tackle the same brief, which is to come up with a new environmental idea that saves money or makes money.

From a CSR perspective, this could be valuable to individual businesses – as well as sparking ideas and innovations that can be shared more widely. Creativity could well hold the key to tackling climate change – and who better to come up with some winning ideas than those who are intimately involved in the running of the business.

Interestingly, some of the participants already have a good track record when it comes to innovation as a means of tackling climate change and reducing costs. The London Fire Brigade has already installed a £520,000 energy saving refurbishment of ten fire stations. The scheme will save 863,000 kWh of energy a year (a 22% reduction) which is an impressive CSR achievement in itself. However, on top of this, the scheme is also self financing. The savings made each year are used to repay the capital investment and after ten years it will have completely paid for itself. It includes very high-tech improvements such as high frequency lighting and condensing boilers, alongside simple changes including insulation and putting reflective panels behind radiators. Impressively, the Fire Brigade also kept all ten fire stations open during the time the work was done.

To coincide with the launch of the challenge, and Climate Week, we did some research about the UK’s attitude to creativity – particularly in relation to the environment. The results were interesting. It turns out that one in five of us has had a money making idea we’ve not acted on, and one in seven of us have seen others make money out of ideas we’ve already thought of.

When it comes to CSR and the environment – we found that 40% of people would make more effort to be green if it helped them save money.

Climate Week’s CEO and founder Kevin Steele, said: “These are tough economic times and climate change can seem like ‘someone else’s problem’ but the right ideas can save money and help combat climate change.”

Photo credit: Nick Ares