The year 2020 must bear witness to a turning point in climate change. According to the Paris Climate Agreement, the global average temperature must be 1.5 degrees or less above pre-industrial levels in order to avoid incalculable risks to humanity. This is realistic, but only if global emissions peak this year, and begin their decline.
What happens when you want to leverage the power of business to help the climate crisis, but your company has had fossil fuels running through its veins for over 140 years?
Spanning four generations, my family has been deeply involved in sales and trading of fossil fuels, starting with my great grandfather, who was a pit office boy in 1880. In 1905 he bought a coal and coke trading business and following the nationalisation of the coal industry in the 1950s, the business diversified by moving into oil distribution.
Over the last 32 years the Ashley and Dumville Group has diversified further, branching into recruitment and publishing but remaining within the petroleum fuel markets.
During 2019, we derived 65% of revenues from petroleum fuel markets. We aim to reduce this to below 50% by 2025.
Moving into renewables is nothing new for us. In fact, our publication, Renewable Energy Installer ran successfully for seven years, and we were fortunate enough to organise numerous events and roadshows within the renewable energy market, establishing a successful division within our company. Unfortunately, our efforts fell victim to sudden subsidy changes, meaning that production of the publication and associated events were no longer viable.
A catalyst for a revival in thinking came in September last year, when I accompanied my daughter and several of her classmates in local climate strikes.
I attended a lively climate strike in Oxford alongside my daughter
With the strikes still fresh in our minds, the motivation quickly turned into the development of our climate policy. Within the policy we are clear that we cannot drop fossil fuels overnight, but we can move towards a transition to balance fulfilling the basic energy needs of society and being more environmentally conscious.
Alongside this, we also developed a dedicated team of colleagues, known as the Climate Crew, to act as advocates for the climate policy, and help to collect and curate ideas to the help the company adhere to the policy in the most efficient way.
The climate policy includes:
- Our intention to measure our carbon footprint and put measures in place to reduce it
- A target to reduce our revenue from petroleum markets to below 50% by 2025
- Our intention to use our media and recruitment business to aid our markets in their energy transition journeys
Our intention to communicate our activities, successes and challenges as we follow the climate policy over the next 24 months
Our intention to allocate 1% of revenue and staff time to climate, biodiversity and some other charitable causes