Neo has officially attended the UK sponsored Green Zone at COP26, which was held in Glasgow, Scotland. Our team arrived on November 10th and stayed through the very last moment on November 11th.
Both myself and Holly took time to speak to sponsors in the Green Zone, as well as attend events in the Glasgow science centre to better understand the climate crisis and the improvements we can implement immediately.
This COP26 is one of the largest UN conferences, ever, due in part because discussions are surrounding urgent and drastic changes everyone needs to make to slow down anthropogenic climate change.
Some of the biggest moves have been a pledge of over 40 countries vowing to phase out coal fired power in the coming years, including various other proclamations regarding financial aspects of climate change (for example who pays damages for what, etc).
Why did Neo attend COP26?
As a direct cremation provider, and as an enterprise in the funeral industry, one may initially question why we would be interested in attending COP26.
The reason is simple: we fully understand that change cannot happen unless everyone gets involved. Incremental yet continuous action facilitates change at the molecular level. This means everyone, everywhere has a part to play.
Additionally, we feel that it is becoming increasingly important for the end-of-life industry to become more sustainable. Death is an inevitable aspect in life, and at this current time there are simply not enough options available to families that are eco-friendly and accessible (or affordable).
This blog touches on our experience at COP26, including what we learned and what we seek to achieve within the next year.
What did we seek to accomplish?
The Green Zone was open to members of the public. Within this zone, there are over 200 exhibitors along with talks, meet and greets, and informational sessions all revolving around how we can slow down the world’s gradual temperature increase.
We went to observe, listen, and learn.
We want to improve as a business, and by attending COP26, we hope to gain more knowledge regarding how Neo can take practical steps to remain carbon neutral, and increase our positive impact on the environment in order to support the goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2030.
What are the outcomes of COP26?
- Finalising the Glasgow Pact – The Glasgow Pact was the final outcome, which was supported by over 200 delegates from across the globe. COP26 President, Alok Sharma, closed the conference with a gavel. Despite the progress of the Pact, there is still work to be done.
- An integral reference to ending fossil fuels – A key point resonating throughout the pact is the acknowledgement that developing nations cannot be left behind. The talks targeted the reduction of fossil fuels, which scientists say is integral to slow down global warming.
- The largest climate meeting we have ever seen – COP26 this year was pivotal in bringing urgency to global issues. What was once a “sleepy and cumbersome affair,” has now become nothing short of carefully curated international festivals. COP26 in Glasgow saw more than 39,000 registered attendees across the science center and the River Clyde making this the biggest climate meeting the world has ever seen.
What we learned from our experience
Speaking with like-minded individuals and businesses
As we are in a state of the climate crisis and are witnessing the devastating effects of global warming every day, it’s easy to feel discouraged at times. This is why it is so important to speak to like-minded organisations that are also trying to make a difference.
We spoke to a wide range of people working in the sustainable space, including a sustainable cities designer from London. He explained to us what qualities make a city more efficient, and even touched on the current issues of transportation and the growing lack of burial space for cemeteries in urban environments.
We also had an interview with former a BBC journalist, podcast and documentary maker to discuss sustainability at the end of life industry. We will share this with you all very soon.
Learning from talks and seminars
We attended several inspiring industry talks and seminars, including ‘Tech For Our Planet’ and ‘Climate Challenge Cup innovation showcase and awards’. We found this event really resonated with us as an organisation.
There was an expert panel discussion with Dr. Emily Reichert, CEO of Greentown Labs, Daze Aghaji, Young UK Climate Justice Activist and Colette Pishon Battle, a founder of a non-profit law firm called gulf coast centre of law and policy.
Colette spoke poignantly on the power that communities have over social and environmental change when they are valued, saying: “The only time we’ve ever seen change at the local, at the regional and global level has been when communities are valued for the power that they hold”- “I choose to make my accountability to the people I choose community because I think that’s where change comes from.”
This concept of bringing about positive environmental change by working with communities really resonated with us.
We constantly work to balance the social impact of working with underserved communities by making our service as affordable as possible, whilst having a positive impact on the environment. We feel that everyone should have access to the sustainable end-of-life options.
How Neo plans to reduce carbon emissions
After speaking with players in the space, we learned there are a few quick actions to implement which will reduce our carbon footprint.
- Minimising transportation – This one is a given, but not always the easiest to implement in our industry. We can at least optimise the amount of transport we do use by using electric vehicles rather than diesel, having multiple destinations on one trip and taking public transport where possible.
- Using more sustainable materials – Purchasing from fellow B Corps and continuously vetting the materials we use (coffins, urns, etc) is important to reduce our carbon footprint.
- Focusing on our sustainability partnerships – This plan calls for more focused and directed investment in our sustainability partnerships. In other words, we must place emphasis on the quality of our partnerships rather than the quantity.
- Better tracking, measuring and reducing – Tracking and reducing doesn’t just mean in our organisation. We mean this on a personal level, too. We have worked to empower employees and enable them to make more informed and sustainable decisions in their personal and professional lives.
Attending COP26 in Glasgow was an eye opening experience. Addressing climate change and making incremental improvements each day is what will facilitate change.
At Neo, we understand the fine balance of addressing social and sustainability issues. We are proud to have reached our milestone of obtaining full B Corp Certification, but this is not the end all be all of our sustainability initiatives. If anything, this places more pressure on our organisation as we will be monitored and required to re-certify in a few years time.
To see our journey at COP26, head over to our accounts on social. There you will find informational posts, Instagram Lives, and entertaining TikToks (!!!) that showcase what the conference was all about.
If you want to see what we have accomplished in the last year, please find our 2020 Impact Report, here. We are currently in the process of collating our 2021 Impact Report which will come out at the beginning of 2022 – stay tuned.