Knowing the Rules of the Game

Knowing the Rules of the Game

Knowing the Rules of the Game

Looking across LinkedIn or on the pages of sustainable business news sites, barely a week goes by without an announcement by a well-known brand or business about its latest sustainability plan. The level of ambition among big corporates is certainly ramping up, which is amazing to see. It’s no longer about a 30% reduction or a 20% improvement. It’s about being ‘net-zero’, ‘100% circular’ and ‘forest positive’. The language is bold and the commitment is big.

Talking to businesses large and small over the last few weeks, however, it’s clear that policy is trailing corporate ambition and needs to catch up. There’s a gap emerging with businesses wanting to forge ahead but feeling unsure about the new rules of the game. They’re crying out for government to hit reset on policy and regulation to give them certainty and level the playing field.

The good news is, in some areas the rules are becoming clearer. For example, the Irish government published its Waste Action Plan for a Circular Economy in early September, setting out the policy changes and new regulations that will come into force over the next few years. Also, in the coming weeks we will have a new Climate Action (Amendment) Bill passed into law, which will lay down the rules that will govern Ireland’s climate action for decades to come.

We need policy and business ambition to be better aligned. Because when businesses know the new rules, they can play the new game. And then we can see who the sustainability winners and losers really are.

Image credit (below): Futerra

Our July Top 5

  • New renewable energy projects get the go ahead: A total of 82 new renewable energy projects are set to go ahead in Ireland after the Government approved auction results under the new renewable electricity support scheme (RESS). Seven of these will be community-led projects, such as in Claremorris, Co. Mayo where a solar farm built on an old landfill site will generate enough power to supply the town. (Irish Times)
  • What does net-zero really mean? More and more companies are aiming for ‘net-zero’ but this article, from the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTI), explains how not all net-zero targets are equal. To help standardise things, they’re developing the first global science-based standard that companies can use. (
  • Naming and shaming the biggest polluters: the latest analysis from the Polluters Project reveals that just 20 fossil fuel companies are responsible for over one third of all carbon emissions. (
  • Brewdog’s new sustainability strategy: ‘This is not advertising. This is activism.’ So said Brewdog’s CEO James Watt on LinkedIn when he shared the company’s new ‘carbon killing plan’ along with an image of a billboard with a Brewdog advert saying ‘F**k you CO2.’ If you haven’t already seen the plan it’s definitely worth a look. (
  • UK to require pension schemes to disclose climate risk
    The UK government is ramping up its push for mandatory disclosure of climate risks by pension funds, in line with the TCFD. The 100 biggest pension funds will have to assess and report on the financial risks of climate change within their portfolios by the end of 2022, with smaller funds to follow suit the year after. (ESG Today)

Climate R|O

We hear a lot about what businesses need to do mitigate their impact on climate change by cutting emissions. But what about the need to adapt to the risks from things like more extreme weather and changes to policy and laws? SustainabilityWorks Climate R|O project, funded by the EPA, aims to provide practical, evidence-based advice to Irish businesses on how to adapt to the risks of climate change and take advantage of the opportunities.

We’re focusing on five key sectors that are important to the Irish economy. During November we’ll be hosting virtual workshops for businesses, trade bodies and policymakers from these sectors to share our preliminary research results. If your business or organisation would like to take part in a workshop please email for more info.

The Great Reset

The Great Reset is a creative industry movement that’s calling on  those in advertising, marketing and communications to use their creative influence to reset and shape the future we want. Initiated by Purpose Disrupters in the UK, the movement is now gathering pace in Ireland, thanks to a group of passionate changemakers from organisations such as THINKHOUSE, Folk Wunderman Thompson, McCann Dublin, RTE and IAPI.

SustainabilityWorks took part in the inaugural event during September and the positivity and energy for change in the virtual room was palpable. This is a movement that’s going to make waves. Check out the website and get involved!


Spotlight: An Post

We were delighted see to An Post launch its Green Hub a couple of weeks ago. They’ve partnered with SSE Airtricity to create a One Stop Shop end-to-end service to improve the energy efficiency of your home – from building contractor and project management, to grants and financing, they offer support from project start to finish. It’s a great example of business and finance collaborating together to make things easy for the consumer. And with 1 million homes in Ireland needing to be upgraded for a low carbon future, making it easy is key.

Quote of the Month


What We’ve Been Up To

The SustainabilityWorks team have had a busy month! In addition to our client projects we’ve been taking part in various virtual events. Karen spoke on a panel at the Responsible Innovation Summit. Laura’s been delivering weekly lectures for the Institute of Banking’s sustainable finance course. And Aideen ran a webinar for the Climate-KIC startups about aligning their business with the SDGs. We also wrapped up the five-week MODOS circular economy training programme with a fabulous and motivated group of SMEs.

What We’re Listening To

How climate migration will reshape America‘ – an excellent podcast from the New York Times. It’s not an easy listen, so choose your time and arm yourself with a strong coffee before you put your headphones in!

What We’re Watching 

Sticking with our theme of excellent but sobering content, BBC1’s ‘Extinction: The Facts’ was tough but necessary viewing. At SustainabilityWorks we’re climate optimists and we focus on action and solutions. But…we cannot shy away from the truth about what’s happening. And who better to remind us of this than Sir David Attenborough himself. Look out for his new film ‘A Life On Our Planet’ coming to Netflix this weekend.

Sustainability Jobs

  • Group Sustainability Reporting & Sustainability Director, EU – Ardagh Group
  • Sustainability Marketing and Communications Manager – Logitech
  • Global Environmental Sustainability Operations Executive Director – Novartis