Ahead of the G7 being held in Cornwall this weekend, British Chambers of Commerce South West (BCCSW), an affiliation of the accredited county chambers in the region, hosted a virtual ‘C7’ Conference tackling the challenges and opportunities of a green and blue economy.
Chambers of commerce from the G7 and guest countries joined leading academics at the event which was hosted by former BCC Director General Dr Adam Marshall and featured a keynote speech by Rt Hon Lord Sedwill. More than 200 participants from around the globe debated the key issues and as a result Stuart Elford, chair of BCCSW, wrote to Boris Johnson summarising the key requests.
The letter, received by Boris Johnson on June 7, covered five key areas:
1) Plot the path
As we transition to a sustainable future, we need Government to guide business and help us understand the steps we need to take. Change will not happen overnight but business can help provide the solutions as long as we understand the route we need to take.
2) Balance regulation with incentive
There is a role for commitments and target setting for both government and business, but there must be a combination of carrot and stick, incentivising and helping business to take the necessary steps. Business needs support, especially as it reels from the impact of the pandemic and adjusts to post-Brexit international trade, so there should be no additional cost burden imposed upon it.
3) Show leadership
Be strong and bold, working closely with like-minded partners who share our values and holding to account those countries that do not. Show solidarity with our G7 partners with a consistent approach to fossil fuels and waste management and reach out to help other countries work towards our goals. Work in partnership with businesses across every sector to help drive us all towards sustainable solutions.
4) Be fair and free
People and businesses deserve a level playing field that gives opportunity to all. Ensure that the poor are not excluded by digital poverty and make sure that international corporations pay the same tax as local businesses.
If 100 Corporations are responsible for 71% of emissions, then do not punish those businesses that are trying their best but go after those that are damaging our planet the most. Allow us to trade freely around the world and enable us to do so sustainably.
5) Innovate and inform
Share best practice and seek out new ways to drive change in behaviours that are damaging to our planet. Ideas from the C7 conference included asking businesses to file environmental impact reports with their accounts and implementing a traffic light system, similar to that used on food packaging, to show consumers the impact products have on the environment. Work with business to find solutions and share best practice.
In the letter Stuart Elford said: “The UK needs to trade internationally and while technology enables us to forge friendships around the world, especially opening up the service sectors, we must also be able to travel and move products freely in a way that is sustainable.
“We ask you Prime Minister to collaborate with business to find solutions that are fair and sustainable, work with like-minded partners around the globe that share our values, and hold to account those that do not. We stand ready to help you achieve these goals and look forward to welcoming you and other world leaders to our region.”
Cornwall Chamber of Commerce CEO, Kim Conchie, added: “As the Prime Minister visits Cornwall for G7, the south west wants to show how seriously we have been taking the issue of sustainable growth for many years. Number 10 has acknowledged receipt of our letter and we know these concerns will be uppermost for the conference, through to COP26 and beyond.”