Sam Baker: Climate Action Needs Company


I’ve been working on a project called the Goal 13 Impact Platform for over a year. It’s an initiative formed by the CBI, A4S, Chapter Zero, the Met Office, Dell and Deloitte to create a free and open repository of corporate climate actions. We collect this information through interviews of companies large and small, across sectors and geographies. We’ve interviewed close to 400 companies and, when validated with the interviewee, the write-ups are published on

Whilst some companies are interested in amplifying their own positions, many are contributing in the spirit of sharing. The interview covers the pressures the companies are under to address climate change, their targets and commitments, the way they are organising their response, the most impactful initiatives they are running, the barriers to progress, and finally the key lessons they have learned.

Two themes that come up again and again are collaboration and its sibling, engagement. 

Collaboration is seen as critical to successfully delivering company commitments to driving down emissions. This reflects the systemic nature of the challenges faced, the speed with which emissions need to be driven down, and the lack of knowledge and capability to execute. Customers, suppliers, and government are the main targets for collaboration; but this is extending to competitors, the wider public, and local communities. Many are struck by the near-universal desire to collaborate on climate action – markedly different from what has gone before.  

Engagement covers engaging with employees, but also with customers and suppliers and the broader market. It encompasses both the messaging of what the company is doing and why, together with interaction with key stakeholders to ensure this message is understood, and the opening up of channels to develop joint learning and ultimately action. The climate crisis brings a different flavour to this engagement and communication: hubris is out, over-promotion or greenwashing is seen as value destructive, inclusivity is in. The lack of maturity of standards and taxonomies makes this difficult but extra important.

Recognition of the importance of these two themes has stimulated and shaped the other project I am working on: Walk2COP26. Through the mechanism of the walk, we hope to catalyse collaboration across stakeholder groups (local authorities, businesses, civil society, students) and play a small role in furthering engagement on Climate Change. On a more personal note, it’s forcing me to collaborate with many who I might not otherwise have done, and pushed me to engage and learn from many. And this is just in the planning phase…

Both projects come to a head at COP26. The Goal 13 Impact Platform will publish a report of findings in mid-October, and the walk will end in Glasgow on the 1st of November with two events planned over the following two days. We hope the message of collaboration and engagement will be heard far and wide, and characterise the critical discussions, conclusions, and commitments that we need to see come out of COP at both international and local levels.

Sam Baker is an executive adviser who has spent almost 30 years working with businesses as a consultant. Since 2015 he has focused on the intersection of business, society and the environment. He is the team leader of Walk2COP26, a 500-mile walk from London to Glasgow that brings different organisations together around local climate action. He’s also a proud grandfather hoping to contribute in a small way to a safer future for his grandson.

Photo taken locally on a Walk2COP26 practice walk.

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