Businesses failure to change will lead to crippling floods, droughts and heatwaves - Chris Rea

Chris Rea is founder of Betterworld.Solutions and founder and managing director of AESSEAL plc

As an engineer and entrepreneur who gets a kick out of solving problems, I came up with Betterworld.Solutions to help companies understand how they can combat global warming and prove that climate-friendly investments are good for business.

Our campaign aims to speed up the shift to a sustainable economy by highlighting the heroes of net zero. We are sharing stories of best practice in the use of widely available environmental technologies such as solar panels, heat pumps, batteries and voltage optimisation. We are headline sponsors of The Yorkshire Post Climate Change Summit 2021 because we believe the green transition represents the standout economic opportunity for our region as the UK recovers from the pandemic.

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Betterworld.Solutions started at my Rotherham-based engineering group, AESSEAL, as part of our move to net zero and has been taken up by a growing number of successful Yorkshire companies, including manufacturers Evenort, Gripple, Helix Tools, OSL Group, Powerstar, Vulcan Seals and the building contractor Britcon. It is now going global with the international engineering giant DMG MORI and its 12,000 employees.

Chris Rea is founder of Betterworld.Solutions and founder and managing director of AESSEAL plc

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Ava Jones, marketing coordinator at AESSEAL, represented our project at the summit in Leeds. Her message was that working together to find solutions and share best practice was the key. We have all seen how quickly solutions have been established since the pandemic. Now let’s apply a similar level of focus and resource and we will all get to a safe point for our planet’s future.

Ava is the voice of a generation that realises it needs to fight to secure the future of this planet. It is essential that those with the power to make decisions listen and that all of us work through the problems, find solutions, and take action now.

We encourage companies to adopt, publish and operate an investment policy that prevents global warming. This prompts boards to prioritise sustainable projects over other capital programmes with a similar return on investment.

The policy invites staff, suppliers and other stakeholders to submit proposals for sustainable projects for consideration by directors who must respond in writing within three months. Betterworld.Solutions is a community for like-minded people who want to share the steps they have taken to reduce emissions and get a return on their investment.

At AESSEAL, our main UK business, we were able to go beyond net zero in 2020, but the global business, AES Engineering, is still working to get there.

As a result of our pledge to devote £29 million in planet-friendly investment by 2029, we have been able to accelerate this process and should be able to show that we have reached net zero for scope 1 and 2 emissions already this year. Because we make environmental products, our scope 3 emissions are effectively cancelled out but we continue to do what we can to influence our supply chain, promote Betterworld.Solutions and invest in environmental technologies at our factories across the world. Why? Because it is the right thing to do.

We have become more expert at how to cut greenhouse gases in complex business operations and we want to share our experiences with other companies in Yorkshire and beyond. I believe business leaders face a stark choice – clean up their act or go bust because sooner or later the financial cost of their emissions will outweigh their profitability. To provide a helping hand, we are offering free online training to any company which signs up for our investment policy.

I have spent my working life supplying manufacturing operations around the world and I have developed a deep understanding of global industrial processes but I have never understood why engineers within large organisations are unable to share best practice with their colleagues. The consequences of this failure are contributing to the crippling floods, droughts and heatwaves taking place across our planet.

It is obvious to me that companies can save energy, save water, prevent emissions and improve productivity and get a decent return by making climate-friendly investments but many fail to do this because decision-making chains are broken. The whole purpose of Betterworld.Solutions is to connect the problem-solvers with the decision-makers and show these steps can be business-friendly.

The world is changing and thankfully so are attitudes. Sceptics might not believe in climate change science but many of their customers do. Environmentally conscious consumers are forcing change.

They won’t buy from companies that are not planet-friendly. Global financiers believe a company’s environmental characteristic will soon be the most important factor in determining its value and we all know that money talks. With the future of our children and grandchildren at stake we need companies to embrace environmental technologies now to provide them with a better world.