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  • 5 minutes
  • 25/07/2022

The war against climate change: How can social value play a part?

Social Value Portal's Chief Strategy Officer, Nathan Goode, discusses how social value can play a role in helping to fight against the oncoming climate crisis.

Nathan Goode is our Chief Strategy Officer here at Social Value Portal. He wants to ensure organisations across the UK are focused on creating as much social value in their communities as they can. Here, he reflects on the extreme temperatures of summer 2022, and what the social value movement can do to help reduce our impact on the planet.

The beginning of summer 2022 in the UK  saw temperatures in the UK up to 10oC above the normal average.

And one of the most dangerous direct effects of climate change is the increasing combination of high heat and high humidity. Why is this bad news for humans? Because high humidity means our bodies can’t sweat enough to regulate internal body temperatures.

So where has all this come from? Well, we, as humans, are currently emitting about 40 gigatons of carbon a year from energy combustion and industrial processes alone. To put gigaton into perspective, that’s 40,000,000,000 tons of carbon – not the kind of zeros that we want to see.

We’ve been warned enough times that a climate catastrophe is on the horizon. The question is, are we going to do anything about it?

The state of the nation

The UK’s first climate emergency motion was tabled in Autumn 2018 in Bristol. On 1st May 2019, following on from the Welsh and Scottish parliaments, the UK Parliament passed a motion declaring a climate emergency.

Climate Emergency declarations are now widespread. 300 out of 404 local councils (74%) have now declared a Climate Emergency, together with eight Combined Authorities/City Regions.

However, since the beginning of 2021, levels of activity and interest around climate declarations appear to be flatlining. On 1st May 2022, the Queen’s Speech to the Houses heralded the Government’s legislative programme for the year. But there were no references to climate change, carbon, or even the humble environment.

It seems that when it comes to policy, the sense of a “burning platform” has dissipated.

“The war against climate change must be relentless, all-encompassing and – above all – visible.”

Our problems are interlinked

The non-stop march of global warming and climate change won’t wait for us to sort out our  problems today. In fact, our short-term issues are directly tied into the bigger challenges facing the planet. Food and energy costs are huge contributors to the cost-of-living crisis. And we know that rising energy costs are driven by our continued dependence on fossil fuels for power and transportation. Likewise, food production depends on land productivity and of course, fossil fuels to produce fertiliser. Our creaking global supply chains are also killing our oceans and their ability to absorb carbon.

The war against climate change must be relentless, all-encompassing and – above all – visible.

The state of the planet

Its blindingly clear we have collectively failed to scale up our response fast enough over the past two decades. Today, the debate is twofold:

  • mitigation actions to limit and reduce global warming
  • adaptation to recognise that some level of climate change is now inevitable the steps to take to live with it.

This is where social value can help.

How can social value play its role?

Social value has a crucial role to play. By making the climate crisis a fundamental part of the social value agenda, we can:

  • Following the words of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, recognise “the interdependence of climate, ecosystems and biodiversity and human societies”
  • Acknowledge the challenge in a way that relates to people and communities
  • Consider the social factors in the climate crisis, both in terms of the change that’s coming, and the role people play in either tackling or exacerbating the crisis
  • Ensure that the social value movement plays its part by building climate change into our discourse and processes

The question is how to do this, given the huge diversity of organisations, places and projects that already measure social value..

There is a solution

An effective reporting and measurement mechanism for the environment within a social value framework is required. Environment shouldn’t be considered separate to social value.  Social value in procurement and measurement allows us to start these considerations early with organisations who may not be using other environmental tools. And the National TOMs offers a simple way to address the social factors in the climate crisis. It allows us to see the reporting and measuring for organisations and projects. It makes it visible.

We need organisations to record the data to build the environmental narrative and further build momentum. The National TOMs is there to record this. Social value is all about going above and beyond business as usual. How we go above and beyond in the fight against climate change must become part of our everyday social value language.

The National TOMs are a free to use, market-leading framework for reporting your social value. Put them into practise when you fight the climate crisis