This motion started with a call for ideas from members. I published this call for motion ideas in my November blog post ‘The November 2019 Members’ Council Meeting – A New Hope. So I’d like to start by thanking everyone who responded.
Listening to Co-op members and customers
I shared the blog post via Facebook, and Twitter as well, to reach the widest possible audience. Then, to gauge the views of members and customers who don’t follow me or my blog, I looked through the public posts on the Co-op’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram feeds. I can’t show you the emails I received due to protecting members’ privacy, but I can give you a glimpse into what people were talking about online.
When I saw a theme starting to develop around the environment, this enabled me to investigate further with the knowledge of what I needed to be searching for on social media.. When I started proactively looking around this theme of climate change, it became clear that it was a really popular and important topic. So I made a note of the messages about climate change that included photos of the person in the Co-op store or with Co-op products.
Why support motion 12 on climate change?
With email submissions to the process being rather similar to what I’d found on social media, there was a clear pattern emerging. Members want an environmentally responsible Co-op, so how do we deliver it for you?
• We call on our Co-op to determine and report to members on the risk exposure of our businesses and supply chains to the effects of climate change: if we can establish the impact that climate change will have on the Co-op (and major retailers like them), then that will be a massive driver of change because it will show the grocery sector the cost that inaction will have for them. The Co-op has done a lot, not everyone has, but everyone can do more. This part of the motion calls on the Co-op to learn more about the risks to the business caused by carbon emissions, by deforestation, by biodiversity loss, and by plastic.
• Establish and take the necessary actions to reduce or eliminate our emissions to achieve end to end net-zero on greenhouse gas emissions and bring forward our 2050 target as soon as practically possible: @bellafurore is right, we do have only 11 years before our climate is out of control, we need to do all we can to do better than our current target of 2050. This part of the motion urges the business to explore how it can address the risks posed by climate change and any unsustainable practices sooner.
• Engage our members, customers and suppliers to tackle the global environmental challenges we face: one thing I have seen in practice during this consultation, is that the breadth of knowledge and the quality of our ideas improves a lot when we listen to our members. The text from email submissions in particular has made this motion a lot stronger than I could have written alone.
• Campaign and work with the co-operative movement and support emerging co-ops to drive greater sustainability across the wider sector: We know that we can achieve amazing things through co-operation, so we need to empower other co-ops who are seeking to make a difference during a very challenging period in their development. When we make them stronger, they make our sector stronger (details of what a co-operative is can be found here).
Co-operative Members Council
The reason that motion 12 made it on to the ballot paper is because the Members’ Council as a whole voted to put it there. The Members’ Council made sure to represent members’ views and get their voices heard. The Members’ Council also voted to support this motion once it made it onto the ballot paper.
Why is this motion important?
This motion is not about doing what businesses should be doing, it is about changing what businesses should be doing. Through this motion, we can urge the Co-op to research and truly see the level of risk grocery retailers are facing from climate change, then share that insight with competitors. Demonstrating why climate change is a business-critical issue to address and providing them with a significant incentive to drive action from within.
Through working together, we can then use our research to explore and influence solutions for addressing climate change and improving sustainability as an industry.
Working with members and members’ ideas means that instead of a relatively small team of people working out new ways to change what businesses should be doing, 4 million brains can work on these solutions, 4 million voices can lobby for systemic change instead of 1 business, and 4 million people can change the systems that caused climate change to inflict such damage on our world.