Like many families, Sunday evenings have become a time to sit down together and watch one of Sir David Attenborough’s many thought-provoking documentaries on the natural world.  

He makes us all reflect on how precious the world is and the precarious future of our planet. With two teenagers in my home, it is very clear how passionate and concerned they are for action by everyone to turn things around.

I was reflecting that, during Covid, retailers have all pulled together to focus on the health of the nation, putting aside competitive advantage and pooling experience and judgement to help shape actions that would have a positive impact in the crisis.

It seems like the climate crisis should be our new joint collaboration because we cannot ignore the health of our planet. As leaders across all industries, we have a moral obligation not to let future generations inherit a severely depleted planet.

The government has set far-reaching and ambitious targets to tackle climate change, but businesses cannot wait until 2050 to make amends.

“When the world emerges from this crisis, the public will have a renewed interest in protecting the planet and seek out companies that show leadership”  

We need to share solutions and collaborate to find changes to business practices that help all of us get there much more quickly and effectively.

When the world emerges from the coronavirus crisis, the public will have a renewed interest in protecting the planet against threats such as climate change and seek out companies that show leadership on these issues.

This year will close with the United Nations Climate Change Conference, known as COP26. The Conference of the Parties (COP) will be attended by countries that signed the United Nations climate change treaty agreed in 1994. 

It will be the biggest conference the UK has ever held and hopefully set a more far-reaching agreement between major nations to cut carbon emissions.

This could show the world that co-operating together can truly make a difference to the most jointly shared problem that all countries face.

At Co-op we believe in championing a fairer world and to do that we must put words into action in order to save our planet.

It is no easy task, but we have strong, ambitious plans to reduce our own direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions.

Clearly, these have to be more than bold targets. There is no room for failure in seeking to protect the planet and we are actively working on new and stretching ideas, and looking for collaborative ways of working with others to achieve our aims.

Retailers have a duty to make their products better for the world, reducing their negative impact on the environment and supporting those producers in the supply chain who are already feeling the impacts of climate change now. Positive social impacts are just as important as we make the changes to how we trade and sell.

As well as needing to reduce our impacts, we must also help shoppers to do the same. Communication and engagement need to be vital elements of our plans, as well as making solutions and actions simple so that any life changes are easy for everyone to make.

“Now is the time for us to work together to prioritise and create action, share solutions and experience, and leave advantage out of the room”

We all know that the clock is ticking and it is imperative that all businesses plot a timeline to net carbon zero, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the way they run their business to the products they sell.

Co-operation will be key to make any meaningful headway. The British Retail Consortium’s Climate Roadmap is a welcome start and provides a helpful steer to us all. But now is the time for us to work together to prioritise and create action, share solutions and experience, and leave advantage out of the room. 

COP26 offers a rare opportunity for world leaders to show global leadership and, crucially, that it’s not too late to act. 

In retail, tackling climate change should come before competitive advantage. It’s in the long-term interests of everyone that we make lasting changes and we share best practice. 

There’s never been a more important time for businesses to stand up together and change the course of history.