Costing the planet

This week’s political gathering in New York has come with the usual posturing, drama and enthused claims. It may also come with a side of president Biden serenading president Macron in the dead of night to beg forgiveness, or it may not. But more on the French and nuclear later.

Again this year there have been calls for action on climate change, an issue making its way to the top table with the increasing frequency of forest fires. With it the admittance of cost. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres reminded leaders that “developed nations need to implement their promise to mobilise $100bn a year for climate action in the developing world from 2021 to 2025.

“I ask leaders to do what is needed to make sure COP26 is a success and that it marks a true turning point.”

President Biden told the United Nations General Assembly that he would work with Congress to double contribution to funds by 2024 to $11.4bn per year.

He said: “The best part is, making these ambitious investments isn’t just good climate policy, it’s a chance for each of our countries to invest in ourselves and our own future.”

Greta Thunberg was unconvinced, tweeting: “It’s quite easy to understand why the world’s top emitters of CO2 and the biggest producers of fossil fuels want to make it seem like they’re taking sufficient climate action with fancy speeches. The fact that they still get away with it is another matter.”

With six weeks to go until COP26 (will that be enough time not to think that people are referring to a 1980s police drama by then? Unlikely) is Greta right? Is it all posturing? The current energy crisis on everyone’s minds is gas supply, not the planet and countries’ reliance on burning stuff. Germany has leant again on coal while the French have been insulated somewhat by their enthusiasm for nuclear. It is only the Scandinavian countries which have enough renewable sources to look convincing.

In hotel land, cost is also a factor when considering the planet. A study by BVA BDRC   found that, while concern for the environment is high, it was not the main motivator of leisure travel choices, with the weather and price ranking at one and two, respectively. Sustainability trails far behind at 25.

But while sustainable standards were not a key motivator of leisure choices, they were becoming a hygiene factor. If sustainable standards are clearly not being met at a leisure organisation, people may start to avoid it – now or in the future.

The report found that people were happy to undertake a range of different sustainable practices, from recycling their rubbish  to flying with lighter luggage. They also showed a willingness to make small sacrifices, such as limited access to conservation areas and a day without meat on the menu small changes which have been shown to make a difference.

Investors are also pushing for change, appreciating that future asset values may be linked to sustainable features, as they are in the office market.

The debate is nuanced, but we all must find a way. To hear more about balancing profit with purpose, register here.

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