We’re all screwed. We were warned and warned and warned again but we didn’t listen. Now it seems those hemp-wearing, tree-hugging, palm oil-avoiding, militant vegan eco-warriors might actually have been the sane ones. Go figure. “We’ll be fine,” the rest of us thought, sipping our lattes from throwaway plastic cups as we sat in our diesel cars on the way to work so we could buy the latest in fast fashion or cheap consumer gadgetry. When push comes to shove, humanity has always prevailed, right? Technology will save us, surely? The problem is that there is a difference between wanting to change and having to change.

If the scientists at the IPCC are to be believed – and it seems they are – we are now finally at the precipice. We need to change if we’re to avoid a climate catastrophe. This is going to have a profound impact on the way businesses conduct themselves moving forwards, both in what they do and what they say.

Beware the vocal consumer

I’m not sure Dylan Thomas was imagining the average Twitter or Reddit thread when he wrote, “Do not go gentle into that good night / Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” Well, of course he wasn’t. But rage they do! And it is often businesses being taken to task over some indiscretion that has caused offence – just ask VW. With this in mind, businesses should take a proactive approach to crisis planning. This could be as simple as taking a look at what green initiatives the business already runs that could be championed in messaging, or by launching green initiatives to highlight a willingness to move with the times. Any business seen to be hindering progress towards a greener future is likely to come under severe scrutiny.

Saving the world, one millennial at a time

A BEIS survey of 1,000 young people aged 18-24 revealed that climate concerns and exciting opportunities are driving young people towards careers in the green economy. It seems that we are finally in a position where we’re not just burying our heads in the sand regarding climate issues. We have the means to affect change and also the will to do so. Businesses should take advantage of this opportunity and plan their strategic communications accordingly. Many businesses are getting recognition for running green initiatives to affect change, as seen in the Corporate Knights 2018 Global 100 index of the Global 100 most sustainable corporations in the world.

This discussion is likely to rage on with considerable vehemence and in a time where news and misinformation can spread so fast, it is crucial for businesses to have a crisis management plan. A considered approach to communications could be the difference between being evangelised by the public or vilified. Hotwire has dedicated crisis expertise, so if you would like to hear more about our crisis communications capabilities, either as part of campaign planning or more generally, please get in touch – graham.westrop@hotwireglobal.com.