Ambassadors’ Day event at British Antarctic Survey’s HQ focuses on net zero goals for business
Events company 3CAT Independent Mind hosted an Ambassadors’ Day event at British Antarctic Survey’s Madingley Road premises at which 120 attendees from business and public organisations shared their achievements and challenges as the corporate world adapts to its net zero responsibilities.
Ambassadors’ Day: Corporate Net Zero is a 3CAT platform for leading businesses to share their latest achievements and insights as they accelerate their corporate net zero policies. The all-day event at the British Antarctic Survey’s HQ offered a chance for senior management to engage with each other and discover how other business models are embedding their corporate net zero commitments and decarbonising their operational and supply chain.
The schedule last Thursday (January 19) began with a welcome by Dr Beatrix Schlarb-Ridley, director of innovation and impact, and chair of the Net Zero Carbon Strategy Group at British Antarctic Survey, who set the scene for the role required from net zero leaders.
Dr Schlarb-Ridley said: “BAS’ net zero carbon strategy involves communications and awareness-raising. We want to use the information we have to initiate climate action and also to get people to make the effort now – to show how stark the situation is but also to have an inspirational aspect, for instance since whaling has been forbidden [in 1986], we have seen a recovery, a beautiful recovery – nature can recover, and we are bringing such evidence about climate and biodiversity to a wider spectrum of audiences.”
Dr Schlarb-Ridley was followed by Clare Fothergill, Rothera renewable energy lead, British Antarctic Survey, on the theme of ‘achieving net zero in extreme environments’.
The morning keynote was given by Gavin Shelton, founder and CEO of community food producer CoFarm, who explored some of the principal drivers behind not only climate change but also global biodiversity loss and health inequalities. Gavin shared some of the joys and challenges of piloting a new model of community-based agroecological farming, or ‘co-farming’, in Cambridge, and how scaling up this model can accelerate the journey to net zero and drive transformational progress towards achieving the UN Global Goals by 2030.
Landsec, the largest commercial property company in the UK and a member of the FTSE 100, had two of its sustainability executives speak about the company’s mission to achieve net zero.
The final session before lunch involved panellists from Royal Mail, John Lewis, Sodexo and Anglian Water discussing translating science targets into business actions and upscaling business leaders for complex decisions and trade-offs around net zero actions.
The afternoon keynote was given by Prof Paul Anderson, principal investigator for the Faraday ReLiB project. His talk was titled ‘Zero-emissions vehicles: avoiding the bottlenecks and finding the road to sustainability’.
This was followed by an audience with Environment Agency executives reporting on the organisation’s approach to net zero.
The mid-afternoon panel discussion involved executives from Toyota, BT, Carbon Trust and NHS England on accelerating actions on Scope 3 indirect value chain emissions – the emissions not directly caused by a company but which are created up and down its value chain.
The final presentation was by Chris Rea, managing director of mechanical seals company AESSEAL, on the company’s journey to net zero.
Afterwards, Gavin Shelton said the experience was very productive.
“It was a well-curated group of people and everyone I spoke to had a sense of genuine commitment not just to net zero but also to the broader sustainable development challenges we all experience.
“Most of the attendees were C-suite executives, from various different areas of industry, with lots of CSR leads and net zero leads. The UK government has made a net zero commitment so they’re organised around that. It was a good opportunity to tell a positive story about climate change and about healthy food supply, where food and farming are repositioned to be sustainable.
“My message was not to just think about net zero, but about developing solutions which are realistic because otherwise without that you can cause unintended harm to other parts of the system.”
The BAS booking began when Dr Schlarb-Ridley attended an Ambassadors’ Day event and told Yevgeniy Makushin, head of the content and the event director, that BAS has conferencing facilities at the Aurora Innovation Centre.
“The idea of Ambassadors’ Day was born a couple of years ago when we started it as an Ambassadors’ Hour, a one-hour long format held at the British Museum in conjunction with our EV Charging Infrastructure Focus Day,” said Yevgeniy, who had been business development manager at event management company Vostock Capital for seven years until two years ago. “We grew it to an Ambassadors’ Day based on the feedback we received and this year we were invited to host it at BAS in Cambridge.
“Having so many businesses in attendance, ranging in size from small to large, gives you a perspective of the scale of the challenge we are facing, but also a perspective on what great opportunities there are and how cross-sector collaboration can spark great outcomes. I was glad to witness plenty of open conversations, engagement, honest exchanges of opinions, and lively discussions on the day.”
Pilvi Muschitiello, impact facilitator at British Antarctic Survey, said: “We were delighted to host the Ambassadors’ Day event here in Cambridge. Over 120 people attended, from across the business and public sectors, and it was vital to get together to discuss how we navigate the complexities of reducing carbon emissions together.
“One of the common themes of the day was the need to start your net zero journey now, regardless of the current situation of your business or organisation.
“Here at BAS we are aiming to reach net zero by 2040 and, by sharing ideas and problems through events like these, we hope that it eases the burden and inspires others.”
Dr Schlarb-Ridley concluded: “It has been so encouraging to see industry leaders coming together to share progress and challenges on the way to net zero, eager to collaborate and keen to up their game in bringing about transformational change.
“Our experts at BAS were delighted to share the unequivocal scientific evidence about the urgency of climate action and biodiversity conservation, and discuss innovative solutions to reduce carbon emissions.
“We have a precious window of opportunity to act, and strong leadership is needed to put our planet back on a sustainable footing. I look forward to all of us implementing what we have learned from this day.”