The WTO’s World Trade Report, released at the recent COP27 summit, contains much to make us all proud of being businesspeople, because it sees trade as the potential cornerstone of sustainability and climate action – not the hindrance to it that it is often viewed as.
But the report is also clear that if business does not become more sustainable, it will reap some very painful operational and economic consequences.
Productivity losses, production shortages, damaged transport infrastructure, and supply chain disruption are all likely outcomes of climate change that, if unchecked, will affect every business, large and small.
It’s just one more issue you have to deal with, in addition to the skills shortage, rampant inflation, and spiralling costs. In the face of all that, how can the Chamber possibly help?
Join us to get a grip on carbon
On the climate change front specifically, we at the Chamber are working closely with sustainability specialists to enable Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to measure and reduce their carbon emissions – a key cause of climate change, and a metric on which businesses are increasingly being judged by customers, partners, and investors.
As we reported earlier this year, we have partnered with Compare Your Footprint to make a software tool available to Chamber members, at no cost, that enables them to identify where their carbon emissions are coming from, and take action to reduce them.
Through Compare Your Footprint, our members are also able to obtain specialist carbon management training from Green Element, which includes the setting up of an Environmental Information Management (EIM) system.
This helps local businesses meet environmental standards like ISO 14001 that are respected both in the UK and by international trading partners.
As the WTO report makes clear, climate change is now very much a business issue, and at the Chamber we’re proud to be equipping our members to combat it.
Support beyond sustainability
This, of course, taps into the wider strength of the Chamber: namely, that it puts the right people, partners, and resources around you when you’re navigating your way through upheaval – and that’s about much more than climate change.
As one member recently put it, “When I need advice on a specific issue, I often turn to the Chamber rather than anyone else in the first instance”, and there is good reason for this.
The help we can offer is extensive, and includes, amongst other assets and resources, free access to legal, HR, employment, and Health & Safety documentation and support, our business finance and funding platform, zero-cost debt recovery, and member2member subject matter experts.
In challenging times like the present, having the right guidance and contacts to hand can make all the difference.
A voice at the top table
But it’s also important to remember that, as a member of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), we have the ear of Government – and we seek the opinion of our members to vocally influence policy both in Westminster and at a global level.
It was William Bain, Head of Trade Policy at BCC, for instance, who, in the wake of the WTO report, publicly urged world leaders to reduce both tariff and non-tariff barriers to green trade, to strengthen its positive impact on climate change.
With these voices behind us, we have a fighting chance of turning adversity into opportunity - and that’s good news for your business and our planet.
For more information on how Bedfordshire Chamber of Commerce can help local businesses respond effectively to both environmental and economic challenges, visit www.chamber-business.com, or call us on (01582) 522448.