Comment - Bosses must protect the environment now - or face condemnation later

The looming dangers of the climate crisis were rammed home again on Earth Day this week.

Thursday, 22nd April 2021, 9:21 pm
AESSEAL MD Chris Rea.

Although it actually didn’t have too much of an impact - since global warming is in the news every day now. But understanding the problem and doing something meaningful about it are different things.

Whether we ignore the issue or not, change is coming - and it has galvanised one South Yorkshire boss.

Chris Rea of AESSEAL has a new policy that prioritises suggestions from shop floor staff. He thinks they are best-placed to spot ways of improving processes while saving the environment and has set up a hotline to make it as easy as possible.

Sign up to our Business newsletter

Sign up to our Business newsletter

AESSEAL MD Chris Rea

He’s also given orders for managers to agree new proposals fast if they work.

They may on occasion cost more and have a longer return on investment. But it is better to act now, voluntarily, than have change inflicted by government later, he believes.

Ministers have shown they mean business, only this week they announced a new legally-binding target to cut the country’s greenhouse gas emissions 78 per cent by 2035 compared to 1990 levels. It is seen by some as the strongest in the world.

And with the UK hosting the COP26 climate conference in November, it probably won’t be the last.

AESSEAL is already carbon neutral in the UK - a rarity among manufacturers - and has just had a record month, so going green can’t be too damaging. The firm employs 800 and is targeting net zero emissions at all 230 of its locations worldwide by 2029.

But Mr Rea has gone a step further and drawn up an entire off-the-peg system for companies to download, follow and adapt. And it’s having an impact, with some of the best signing up, including WANdisco and Gripple.

You might say, ‘yeah, well mega-successful AESSEAL can afford it’. But maybe it’s just that kind of bold action that has made it one of the best firms in the country.

But what’s driving him? Those who are set to suffer most - his grand-daughters.

The young won’t forgive us if we trash the planet, Mr Rea believes. And no boss wants that as their legacy.