Squaring up to Climate Change

Glasgow’s Climate Change event – the 26th “Conference of the Parties” that convened earlier this month to advance humanity’s response to the crisis facing our environment – has come and gone. Arising from the occasion, before and after, the consensus reaction boiled down to two key convictions: before, that it would fall significantly short of what needed to be achieved; and afterwards, that indeed it had fallen short.

COP26 did register one small but promising success, however. It provided Cradle of English with an opportunity to reframe one of its two podcast series to tackle one of the great buzzwords of our time. As a feelgood term denoting forward thinking and implying positive disruption to the tired old ways of doing things, the innovation buzzword is a banner that can be seen flying all over the world, intoned in business school curricula and wafting up on the warm air generated by earnest marketing departments everywhere.

As to what it means in a Real Life context, however, Fleet Street has been a showcase for its best practice over five centuries, back at least to the days when The Mitre Tavern was throwing off creative sparks in all directions. And with its Mitre Nights podcasts, Cradle of English is nourishing that flame. In focusing on the concept of “innovation”, it is providing a forum for the businesses, banks, legal firms, and universities of central London to engage as a community in doing what the delegations to Glasgow could not do: get stuck in seriously to saving the planet.

Whether reviewing climate change and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals or reflecting on the devices by which immersive technologies will create the digital environments of the future, Mitre Nights will invoke the lively spirit of tavern discussions with a growing community of marketing specialists, academic and technology experts. With COP26 at the top of the global agenda in early November, the rejuvenated Mitre Nights kicked off with a brace of podcasts that previewed and reviewed the Glasgow proceedings, along the way examining the very definition of “innovation” in the context of meeting the challenges of our time.

A sense emerged across our two panel discussions that squaring up to climate change will involve more than just first, political will, driving regulations; much more than second, the technology worship of gadgets; and certainly more than third, the “financial instruments” that spread the incentives around without appreciably addressing the problem. All these have a role to play but are likely to generate a series of COP-outs without a fourth significant player: community engagement.

By community is meant far more just citizen activism, vital though that is.  We are going to see an increasing commitment of corporate will in the enlistment of worker communities backed by the big brands who increasingly understand the value to them of being good corporate citizens, making common cause with the growing proportion of humanity who understand that, important as money will always be, there is no sustainable wealth but life itself.

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