February 26, 2024

Building a Sustainable Brand: The Secret to Attracting 260,000 Job Applicants

February 26, 2024

Building a Sustainable Brand: The Secret to Attracting 260,000 Job Applicants

February 26, 2024

Building a Sustainable Brand: The Secret to Attracting 260,000 Job Applicants

February 2024

Building a Sustainable Brand: The Secret to Attracting 260,000 Job Applicants

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Over the past 8 years, I’ve seen Greg Jackson grow Octopus Energy from a 100-person startup to its current place as one of the central players in Europe’s energy transition. What’s Greg’s superpower? It’s his ability to create brand clarity. Simple messages, forcefully delivered, and reinforced by a compelling value proposition.

Here are a few highlights from our conversation:

  • Prioritise fundamentals over trends. This may not be the most profitable approach in the short term, but can create an enduring offering in the long term. For Octopus, this meant an early focus on delivering affordable green energy (the mission) and an iterative focus on the unit economics.
  • When mission comes later, it helps to bet the farm. We talked about the transition Orsted went through when it shifted from being a fossil fuel company (named Dong) to the leader in offshore wind that we know today. Kudos to Henrik Poulsen who managed this full scale shift.
  • Sustainability will create national scale opportunities to leapfrog competition. This will be true within each of the key themes of electrification, mobility, circularity, alternative materials, and nature based solutions. Some countries will lead with infrastructure and IP, others with business processes and solutions. ​​​​​​

By Saif Hameed, CEO of Altruistiq

Full podcast episode here 👈

Industry Insight: Sustainability Targets: An Act of Faith or is There Method Behind the Madness?

Sustainability targets today on the whole look like an act of faith. But, at the activity level, there’s some method to the madness. For instance, reductions from utilities and logistics are proving straightforward. In Europe, this is being enabled by infrastructure transition and an accelerated push by service providers to differentiate with new offerings.

By way of example:

  • Logistics companies we work with (e.g.,DANX Carousel) are actively shaping the dialogue with their customers, often with the aim of securing collaboration to decarbonise fleets. While long-haul (air, sea) is more challenging, last-mile is happening much faster (especially in major cities, e.g, with Stuart).
  • Utilities providers such as Octopus Energy are accelerating their shift into the solutions space and providing business with offerings that promise a predictable reduction in on-site emissions. Power is the quick win, but heating will offer more substantial gains in the coming years (especially in more complex industrial systems).

While these reductions have been predictable and may continue to be so, other activity areas (specifically related to products and packaging) have proved to be one of Tom Cruise’s unscripted jumps. Here are the ones to watch:

  • Packaging. I think packaging will offer predictable gains up to a point (switches in substrates, light-weighting, recycled content increases), after which waste management systems will prove to be an enduring obstacle (needing major regulatory reform).
  • Products sourced from emerging markets. There will be some easier wins where manufacturing partners are able to ‘insource the externalities’ (e.g., textile manufacturers in South Asia are setting up on-site renewable energy generation to reduce reliance on carbon heavy grids). Other areas will struggle to exceed the pace of national decarbonisation.

Top tip: make sure your targets are on the right footing before you take a leap into the unknown.

Policy Pulse: Biodiversity Net Gain Guidance

The UK’s ground-breaking policy for improving nature, Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG), came into effect earlier this month. This innovative policy makes land developers responsible for improving the biodiversity of their development sites by at least 10%. This is a key part of the UK’s goals to halt and reverse nature loss by 2030.

The key parts for developers working on BNG is two-fold:

  • Measuring the biodiversity of the land,
  • Ensuring they secure 10% improvement.

How to measure biodiversity

The Biodiversity metric 4.0, based off of DEFRA’s measuring framework, will give land a higher amount of biodiversity credits if it is:

  • Highly distinctive - rarer habitat types are considered more important for biodiversity - such as lowland meadows.
  • In good condition - the habitat is better than others of its type.
  • Strategically placed - isolated habitats will have less of an effect than an area that joins two rare woodlands.
  • A large size - greater contiguous spaces are considered better for nature.

How can the 10% gain be achieved?

Now with a quantitative score for the biodiversity of the land, this must be increased by 10%. There is a set priority order for how developers should achieve a 10% increase score:

  1. Improvements on-site - such as planting wildflower meadows to promote pollinators.
  2. Improvements off-site - this will be via a credits market, to restore habitats of the same type as the site.
  3. Purchases of statutory biodiversity credits from Natural England as a backup.

Biodiversity on-site is the priority, with the first port of call being not to degrade any nature on-site in the first place.

What does this all mean?

This is a landmark policy for nature, and one which the UK is genuinely leading. There are likely to be some teething problems. Enforcement will be especially tough for local governments lacking resources. Additionally, as innovative as the Biodiversity Metric 4.0 is, it’s not perfect and over-simplifies aspects of the richness of biodiversity.

Yet looking wider, BNG can do great things for biodiversity by:

  • Establishing stronger nature credits markets, that have the benefit of learning from carbon credits’ mistakes.
  • Injecting more primary biodiversity mapping data into the eco-system.
  • Providing a framework for nature positive action that can spread to other sectors.

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