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Want to protect the planet? Start a climate action group

Authors: Elsa Bardout and Courtney Lloyd

protest sign with writing - there is no planet B
  • Date 26 August 2022

If your organisation is serious about fighting climate change, it needs formalised, collective action. Here’s what we’ve learned from this work at TPXimpact.

TPXimpact was formed to balance profit and purpose, considering people, planet and community in everything we do. Since the formation of the company, recognition and awareness has grown enormously of the harm humans are doing to the planet's climate and ecology. This has pushed us to rethink what it means to be a 21st century organisation: we need to leave the planet in a better place than we found it.

As part of this work, we set up an internal climate group with representatives of each team in the company using a sort of civic lottery process to ensure diversity. We jokingly named ourselves the Group that Reacts to the Emergency that Threatens us All, or GRETA for short, and got to work. 

white post it - Group to react to the emergency that threatens us all

Our objective was to find ways to reduce our impact on the planet and be the voice of climate change in the company. We discussed everything from the use of post-its in workshops to how we measure a project’s carbon footprint.

As the pandemic hit, it became increasingly difficult to put aside time to work on this. We needed to build more momentum, so we reflected on the process and decided to start again. We’ve gone through a few versions since then. 

How we’re addressing climate issues at all levels of our organisation

So what are we actually doing? 

When we first started, we discussed reducing train trips to client sites, buying less supplies, calculating the footprints of websites we built for clients, and encouraging our colleagues to reduce waste. But we felt overwhelmed by all the challenges and opportunities and couldn’t decide where to start. 

Once we visualised an overview of potential areas of work, it felt much clearer and helped us focus. We asked each person in the group what they were most interested in working on, and formed smaller teams for each topic so we could each focus on something whilst knowing that we are collectively covering all opportunities. 

These opportunities are focused around our employees, the organisation, and our clients and partners.

how we're focusing action across employees, organisation and clients

Employees

The employee level of our plan is about empowering staff to take action by:

  • Enabling collective action through challenges and volunteering. We have started using the platform Alaya to encourage our colleagues to accomplish challenges and sign up to volunteering events like community clean ups.
  • Encouraging individual behaviour change by sharing inspirational content, organising events, and making changes to policies. For instance, the company supported staff to reduce travel emissions with the launch of an electric vehicle leasing scheme and a cycle scheme. Our climate action group also shared resources on Slack, invited guest speakers to inspire our colleagues and organised clothes swaps in the office.

Organisation

The organisation level of our plan is about leaving no trace by measuring our current emissions, reducing them, offsetting the rest, and addressing our ecological impact through our partnership with Rewilding Britain

The company decided to invest in doing this by hiring specialist staff and collaborating with expert organisations. You can read more about what we have done in our annual report.

Clients and partners

The clients and partners level of our plan is about driving change in our industry by:

  • Reviewing our ways of working to embed sustainability in all our projects. We reviewed existing sustainable design tools and guidance, and started making our own to adapt them to our specific context. We have also been collating information about how various government sectors relate to climate change to show how we can intervene.  
  • Working on more planet-centred projects. The company has been doing more and more projects around developing the use of electric vehicles, encouraging home retrofits, supporting councils to reach net zero, organising climate assemblies, and more.

We now have small teams within our climate action group working in each one of these areas, with the autonomy to make decisions and the support of the rest of the group as well as the wider company. 

As we developed this model, we realised it is generic enough that it can be replicated in most organisations. So if you’re looking to set up your own climate action group, here is our advice on how to get started.

How to set up a climate action group 

We didn’t get it right the first time. We keep evolving as we go but here is what we have learned so far. 

To run a climate action group, it helps to:

  1. Assemble a small team of motivated individuals who can dedicate some time to climate action. 
  2. Agree with leadership on the decision making and approval process to enable the team to make changes and ask for support when they need it. It is vital that this work has support from senior leadership so you can take your ideas forward. 
  3. Identify all potential areas of work. As interest grows and your team expands, split into smaller groups with specific areas of focus. 
  4. Write a brief for each area of work so groups have clarity on their objective, the activities they will do, the expected output and the conditions for success. Use this to ask leadership for time and resources.
  5. Meet monthly so each group can update each other on progress and contribute to other pieces of work. Use these meetings as an opportunity to invite new members..
  6. And finally, engage with the rest of the organisation to collect challenges and ideas. Share your work early and often to get people involved.

Keep in mind you might not need to ask for permission to get started. None of us had sustainability in our job titles. We are still trying things out, and we know we won’t get everything right but we are choosing to act and learn as we go.

Sharing what we learn

We want to share our journey openly so we can inspire and support others to go through their own change and take action for the climate. This is only the start. We don’t have all the answers so we would love to learn from you as well. 

How have you enabled climate action in your organisation? And what did you learn along the way? Share your thoughts with us on social media, we'd love to keep the conversation going.


Elsa Bardout and Courtney Lloyd

Co-chairs of GRETA climate action group, TPXimpact


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