After nearly a thousand arrests of non-violent demonstrators in London over the last week, it is clear that the Extinction Rebellion movement has changed the conversation about climate change, where so many of us have tried and failed hitherto. This is a therefore a unique moment of opportunity, for all with eyes to see how quickly we are collectively sabotaging a livable future.
The letter to the Times by business leaders that follows was pulled together by the inestimable John Elkington at short notice. I would appeal to all in the business world who worry about climate change to engage with the XR business platform that the letter refers to.
A survival reflex could yet emerge in society, but as the anguished people of all ages blocking London streets and the thousands of striking schoolchildren know only too well, time is running out fast.
Sir, Contrary to belief, there is business support for the Extinction Rebellion (XR) agenda. The multi million-pound costs that the Extinction Rebellion protests have imposed on business are regrettable, as is the inconvenience to Londoners. But future costs imposed on our economies by the climate emergency will be many orders of magnitude greater.
Hard pressure drives change, but even the most committed businesses will need time to respond. We welcome the news that Extinction Rebellion is evolving a new platform, XR Business, to engage business leaders, investors and advisers. To drive things forward, the idea is to convene a meeting of XR activists and experts with business leaders and influencers.
Most businesses were not designed in the context of the developing climate emergency. Hence we must urgently redesign entire industries and businesses, using science-based targets.
To kick start the process, businesses should make a declaration that we face a climate emergency and organise a session at a full board meeting to consider the case for urgent action. We will encourage the senior management teams of which we are part to do likewise.
Seb Beloe, partner at WHEB
Thomas Bourne, CEO and co-founder, Greenheart Business Ltd
Amy Clarke, co-founder, Tribe Impact Capital LLC
Chris Davis, CSO, The Body Shop International Ltd
John Elkington co-founder and Louise Kjellerup Roper, CEO, Volans Ventures Ltd
Brad Frankel, CEO and co-founder, Flooglebinder Ltd
Jake Hayman, CEO, Ten Years’ Time
Jeremy Leggett, founder and director, Solarcentury Ltd
Charmian Love and Amanda Feldman, co-founders, Heliotropy Ltd
Andy Middleton, founder and chief exploration officer, TYF Group
Safia Minney, founder & Former CEO, People Tree Fair Trade group.
James Perry, partner, Snowball LLP
Paul Polman, former CEO, Unilever plc
Samer Salty, co-founder and managing partner, Zouk Capital LLP
Sir Tim Smit, founder of The Eden Project, executive chairman of Eden Regeneration Ltd
Hermione Taylor, CEO and founder, The Do Nation Enterprise Ltd
Diana Verde Nieto, CEO and co-founder, Positive Luxury Ltd
Dale Vince OBE, founder, The Ecotricity Group
Bevis Watts, managing director, Triodos Bank UK
Tim Westwell, co-founder and former CEO, Pukka
Gail Bradbrook (co-founder) Extinction Rebellion
Fiona Ellis (XR Business)