What do COP28 outcomes mean for sustainability at your workplace in 2024?Kirsty Green-Mannon January 4, 2024 at 10:15 am Career advice | Career tips


Happy New Year! As we kick off 2024, many of us have resolutions or promises to change or do something new in the coming months. However, sometimes it’s just as important to keep on track with your existing goals. It’s why I’m interested in seeing whether organisations stick to their sustainability targets in the year ahead.

2023 concluded with the COP28 summit last month, where attendees including world leaders and delegates from organisations and non-government bodies came together to tackle climate change. The annual event has become somewhat of a barometer for trends in sustainability and global commitment toward it.

In this blog, I’ll be exploring how the outcomes at COP28 – and the manner at which leaders arrived at them – form part of a potentially worrying trend in sustainability as we enter 2024. I’ll also suggest ways that you can take action at your workplace to keep this all-important conversation going.

Why do the COP28 outcomes matter to you?

The landmark decision among the announcements at COP28 in December was to move away from fossil fuels. Though lauded as a big step forward, some critics pointed out that its impact was undercut by the wording of the agreement, with the phrase “transition away” deemed as vague and non-committal to any timeline. Furthermore, this “transition” only applies to “energy systems”, and not manufacturing or production.

Ultimately, the reluctance of attendees to make these commitments (such as a “phaseout” of fossil fuels, which was eventually changed to the “transition away”) is a worrying sign.

Do the COP28 outcomes form part of a wider trend in sustainability in 2024?

It’s tricky to give a blanket answer on whether sustainability is no longer the focus it was two or three years ago. However, given that the outcomes of COP28 seem underwhelming, particularly when compared to previous agreements, it’s easy to feel that some organisations and states aren’t taking this seriously. A recent white paper from WEF revealed that the majority of global businesses aren’t making efforts regarding climate change adaptation.

Furthermore, economic uncertainty means that priorities have shifted for many businesses, and sustainability efforts may suffer as a result. According to Deloitte’s 2023 Gen Z and Millennial survey, “Around half of Gen Zs (53%) and millennials (48%) think their companies have already deprioritized sustainability in recent years”. This perceived weak action and lack of ambition in tackling climate change has led to an increase in legal challenges against those held responsible.

What can you do to move the dial on sustainability at your workplace?

These developments may leave you wondering whether your employer is putting sustainability front and centre as we enter 2024. If you’re concerned that your organisation’s priorities don’t align with your own, here are some ideas for you to consider implementing in your workplace:

Engage with other employees on sustainability

Become a Green Champion in the workplace and lead by example. Run events, initiatives and workshops to brainstorm ideas and educate one another.Form an employee resource group to share information. This could be on an ad-hoc basis or in a monthly informal newsletter which you and your colleagues are responsible for.Participate in reverse mentoring with more senior colleagues. I’ve discussed this concept in greater detail here.

Engage with management on sustainability

Collaborate with management to develop and implement sustainability policies and practices.Provide feedback and suggestions on how to improve the organisation’s sustainability efforts, potentially on behalf of the employee resource group you have formed.Help partner and develop relationships with relevant organisations that can help in your employer’s sustainability journey.Research competitors and ensure management is aware of trends or anything coming down the line, such as evolving legislation.

Find an employer who takes sustainability more seriously

What if, ultimately, your employer’s objectives are simply too misaligned with your own? Our LinkedIn poll from 2023 found that an organisation’s commitment to sustainability goals was an important factor for 61% of respondents when choosing to work for them.

If that’s the case for you, and you’d prefer to join an environment where you feel everyone is pushing in the right direction, then it might be time to find an employer that meets your criteria. You may even want to find a job in a role that is more focused on sustainability. Make sure to check out these tips on finding a green job, and find out more about potential roles here.

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