+44 (0)1223 330484

College with a climate success story

Hughes Hall’s Centre for Climate Engagement has led a global movement preparing corporate boards to tackle the climate agenda and helping to get international business ready for the race to net zero

The story

Hughes Hall’s Centre for Climate Change (CCE) was set up in 2018 as part of our Bridge initiative to engage and support corporate boards to prioritise the climate agenda. CCE encourages academic excellence in climate law and governance and brings this knowledge to the business sector to facilitate effective leadership in the race to net zero emissions and climate resilience.

CCE’s success led to the launch in 2019 of Chapter Zero, the UK network of chairs and non-executive directors (NEDs) supporting and driving understanding of climate change amongst business leaders. Working closely with the World Economic Forum, it took on the role of international secretariat in 2020 to coordinate the collaborative efforts of the global Chapters through the Climate Governance Initiative (CGI) which continues to drive this global movement.

Emily Farnworth, Co-director of CCE and Head of Secretariat at CGI said: “Here in Cambridge, working with the best thinkers, business leaders, philanthropists, and innovators, we have nurtured ideas that are now changing the way boards address climate change. These efforts help drive a critical mass of activity to reverse humanity’s detrimental impact on our planet. What Hughes Hall’s Centre for Climate Engagement has done in launching Chapter Zero and supporting the Climate Governance Initiative is a significant part of that story.”

The success

CCE – Launches Chapter Zero in 2019; takes on the role of secretariat for the Climate Governance Initiative in 2020 and partners with Cambridge Zero, and the Centre for Science and Policy, to run the Cambridge Zero Policy Forum in 2019. Collaboration with Cambridge City Council in 2021 enables “Town and Gown” approach to addressing climate change; and CCE continues to keep business up to date on climate issues including comprehensive briefing on what COP26  means for leaders, in 2021. Collaborations continued in 2022 with CCE joining with the Centre for International Sustainable Development Law and the NetZero Lawyers Alliance to host a series of ‘fireside chats’ focused on climate law in practice.

CGI – Today there are 20 Chapters around the world, bringing together over 100,000 members in 31 countries to address climate change through the actions of corporate boards, at the forefront of global industry.

Chapter Zero – To date, 2,023 business leaders have joined up to tackle climate change and 206 companies in the FTSE350 have at least one Chapter Zero member on their Board.

Taking on climate change for the boardroom, from left: Julie Baddley – Chair of Chapter Zero, Emily Farnworth – Co-director of CCE, Karina Litvack – Chair of CGI

The news

In May, the Centre for Climate Engagement published steps for SMEs to take on climate action. Together with the Institute of Directors East of England, CCE is running a series of events this year for NEDs and business leaders in the East of England to accelerate their work tackling climate change. For details: https://climatehughes.org/practical-steps-for-smes-to-make-their-business-more-sustainable/.

CCE is currently offering summer internships as part of a new research project looking at the climate action opportunities within current laws and regulations. For further details:  https://climatehughes.org/law-climate-research-internship-available-at-hughes-hall-cambridge/.

CCE has published strategic summaries of the three comprehensive reports by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC):

  • The most recent, in April, focussed on Mitigation of Climate Change and explains that limiting warming to 1.5⁰C will require global emissions to peak before 2025 but this will not happen under current policies. The world needs to take drastic action to maintain a stable, liveable climate. A summary of the UN IPCC’s Mitigation Report and what is means for non-executive directors is here: https://climatehughes.org/ipcc-april-2022-mitigation-of-climate-change/.
  • A summary of the previous report, concluding that the impacts of climate change are severe, but that humanity can still avoid many of them, and the importance of adaptation in doing so, alongside what it means for business, is here: https://climatehughes.org/ipcc-february-2022-impacts-adaptation-and-vulnerability/.
  • The IPCC’s first report showed that human activity is unequivocally driving changes to the climate at an unprecedented scale. The science indicates there is still time to limit temperature rises, but only if we act now, and with ambition. CCE’s summary and its implications for Boards is here: https://climatehughes.org/climate-change-2021-the-physical-science-basis/.

The Climate Governance Initiative (CGI) announced a new partnership with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. This partnership will enhance boards’ understanding of how climate risks could affect their business in key regions of focus for the bank. CGI will work with EBRD to promote climate governance, including training NEDs on climate-related risks and the implications for business. Working together will also help EBRD’s to deliver its Green Economy Transition (GET) approach, making at least half its investments green by 2025. For more: https://climate-governance.org/press-release-the-climate-governance-initiative-announces-their-partnership-with-the-european-bank-for-reconstruction-and-development/.

In collaboration with The World Economic Forum and Deloitte, CGI has developed comprehensive guides to equip business leaders with the knowledge and resources they need to take meaningful steps towards a sustainable future: 1. The Chairperson’s Insights into Climate Action; 2. The Chairperson’s Guide to Climate Stakeholders; and 3. The Chairperson’s Guide to Decarbonization. These are available here: https://climate-governance.org/the-chairpersons-perspective-on-climate/. For a definition of climate terms used in the three Chairperson’s guides, visit the Glossary of Climate terms – definitions from the Chairperson’s Guides.

Karina Litvack, Chair of CGI, said: “Growing numbers of directors around the world have understood the gravity of the climate crisis and have committed to taking a leadership role in improving climate governance on their boards. We represent an important new wave of climate champions who are ready to accelerate the pace of change needed to deliver a net-zero economy in our lifetime.”

Chapter Zero reached 2000 members in April. A blog from Chair Julie Baddeley, reflects on why this moment is so significant: https://chapterzero.org.uk/blog/2000-members/. In March, Chapter Zero launched a new scorecard to help business leaders assess how effectively your board is tackling the transition to net zero: https://chapterzero.org.uk/news/introducing-board-scorecard/; published 5 tips for annual reporting season and, at the start of the year, introduced a new Fellows Programme of members who volunteer their time to help produce effectively targeted events and materials.

Julie Baddley, Chapter Zero Chair, reflects: “In around 2800 days’ time, we need to have halved global emissions to avoid the worst effects of climate change. The next few years will be critical and Chapter Zero is here to help our members navigate the changing climate and business landscape.”

For more information