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My journey to zero carbon

21st July 2021 By Justine Bourne
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Two months ago, I joined the Social Net Zero practice, in those two months I’ve become more immersed in the world of net zero, zero carbon, carbon neutral and climate change.

My interest in climate change started in the 1980s when the subject of greenhouse gases and acid rain became a hot topic, then it was about reducing the harmful gases being pumped into the atmosphere. In my case, as with many people in the 80s that involved the use of CFC filled hairspray and aerosol canisters. I lived in household where recycling of materials, sustainable living and walking was the norm – that was just the way life was and I had parents with an interest in living sustainably.

Fast forward to now and it’s still something I’m passionate about, on a personal level I focus on making the small changes to life to reduce our carbon footprint and to reduce single use products. I simply view this as being mindful – don’t always get it right and we’re not always perfect but we are making changes that will make a difference.

I’m making it seem very easy to change, but the reality is it’s not always easy and it often feels challenging to get the information needed to make decisions. That’s a lot of time, research, and mistakes.

Since joining Social Net Zero it’s been reassuring to see that there is a real appetite in the UK to achieve net zero and to be innovative in the approach taken. I’ve been looking across multiple sectors and the change is happening, but when I talk to friends, family, and peers its clear that the levels of understanding about net zero varies. But there is a hunger to want to be informed, educated and to connect with people and businesses who can help with the change.

I’ve discovered a number of things on my short journey that I think its important businesses recognize.

First discovery – I’ve entered a world full of confusing terms and acronyms, reminding me of my first months in the telecoms industry in the 1990s. Few months in, you slip into using the acronyms and ignore the blank looks on faces.

Second discovery – the levels of understanding of what the terms around net zero mean is variable, lots of words but not enough explanation.

Third discovery – that there is a lot happening that’s exciting and innovative but unless you dig you won’t always find it and its not always easy to decipher!

Those discoveries have focused my thought on what Social Net Zero should be focused on over the next few years.

Telling the story of the journey to net zero, understanding that it’s not one single road – it’s a whole network of roads and we won’t all get there in the same way, at the same time. The energy source I use in Midlands may well look different to my friends in the North West. Locally sourced produce might vary in different parts of the country. That’s ok if we’re all headed to the same destination – net zero.

The challenge is to simplify the story, getting rid of the jargon and focus on what drives behaviour change amongst businesses and consumers. Engage with the audience – answer questions, demonstrate how their problems are solved, show the impact a change will make and benefits of making a change.

The goal at Social Net Zero is to tell the stories of the innovative businesses in the UK – helping to educate, inform, make connections and be part of the drive to net zero.