Event report

Towards Net Zero and COP26: Sustainability Leads round table

With just four months to go until COP26, the French Chamber recently held a meeting gathering the sustainability leads across its membership.

A dozen members across a wide range of sectors, from transport and construction to consumer goods and financial services, discussed their Net Zero strategies and other priorities.

Some of the takeaways of the round table include:


Net Zero at the top of the sustainability agenda

With carbon neutrality being the key priority of the COP, it is also at the top of all companies’ sustainability agenda. Most of the companies have joined the Race to Zero campaign, pledging to achieve Net Zero in some cases as early as 2030, with timelines and key milestones set all the way to 2050.

While Net Zero plans vary widely from one company to the next, all participants agreed that they must be based on reliable scientific data. They argued that science, alongside a full commitment from the business, is necessary to ensure Net Zero pledges do not become green washing, which is growing concern for many. 

Biodiversity was another widely discussed issue, with many members actively working to prevent further deforestation and helping restore biodiversity. It will be another priority of the COP26, with one full day dedicated to nature.


Collaboration is key

Participants on the call consistently referred to the need for collaboration, which they deem essential to achieving Net Zero. To become truly carbon neutral, all the companies are conscious of the need to tackle their Scope 3 emissions, which requires working closely with their supply chain, to ensure that they are also taking the necessary action.

Beyond their own supply chains, all rely on the energy, transportation and construction sectors to offer the new solutions that are needed to reduce the impact of their buildings and transport, which remain the most carbon intensive part of their activity. The exchange with the members from these sectors showed the enthusiasm for cross-sectoral collaboration.

All the companies noted that increased collaboration between governments is also needed. Participants referred to measures taken on one side of the Channel they would also like to see on the other, such as the French legal requirement to disclose one company’s carbon usage.


Everyone should take part

The variety of sectors and sizes of companies represented around the table was a good reminder that climate change requires action from all of us, and that SMEs also have their role to play.

Participants suggested that smaller businesses unsure where to start their sustainability journey should begin by completing a carbon impact audit and by joining relevant coalitions which provide support and guidance. The French Chamber’s Sustainability Hub, where members can find helpful resources and read about fellow members’ own best practice, is also a great source of insight.


The Sustainability Leads round table was chaired by Gautier Houel, Head of the Sustainability Division at the French Embassy. The French Chamber and the French Embassy are proud to work together on this key topic, to ensure the Franco-British community is being heard at COP26 and beyond.


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