Welcome to the latest Sancroft newsletter. The sustainability world lost a quiet hero last week with the death of Sir Crispin Tickell, a writer, academic and diplomat, aged 91. Sir Crispin’s work includes one of the first serious books on the coming climate-change crisis, Climatic Change and World Affairs, published in 1977. Not only was he visionary, but he was also patient and tactical, and as a lifelong diplomat, he was studiously politically neutral in his policy work. He enjoyed the credibility to guide UK government policy on many matters of what we now call sustainability – perhaps most famously, he played an important role in convincing Margaret Thatcher on the science of climate change, enabling her to put the subject on the policy map as never before.
One striking feature of Sir Crispin’s pioneering work on climate change is that much of what he argued for in the 1970s is widely-established in government policy around the world today. In many cases, we know well what needs to be done, even if we still lack the tools – including the social acceptance – required to do it.
Achieving sustainable outcomes, however, demands a clear-eyed and realistic assessment of what is achievable today, which may be different from the vision of what may be possible in the future. In my insight this month, in which I confess my Theranos obsession, I explore the tension between the future and the present. I argue that, as much as we need sustainability-minded entrepreneurs and investors to take risks and place bets that may not succeed, the very real urgency of the sustainability task means we cannot ‘fake it’ until we get there.
Our Consultant Charlotte Matthews looks to the future as well, drawing out key trends to watch in 2022. From increased scrutiny on governance, to a maturing approach to ESG, and from sustainability beyond carbon to new technology in the spotlight, Charlotte’s overview predicts a year filled with progress beyond the day-to-day.
Finally, if you missed my minor star turn as a panellist for CNBC, you can catch a few of the highlights in this article, looking at how business can tackle scope 3 carbon emissions; and this one, exploring how financial markets are driving this change.
As ever, we love to hear from you – what you are working on, and what excites you. If Sancroft can be a partner to your sustainable success, please get in touch.