Eco Innovation

An interview with Nigel Topping, climate change speaker

17th March 2023
Kiera Sowery

Nigel Topping is a globally recognised climate change speaker and the UK’s former High-Level Climate Champion, appointed for COP26.

As the former CEO of WE MEAN BUSINESS and an Advisory Board Member for the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change & the Environment, Nigel works with businesses, academics and government bodies to tackle climate change. Learn about Nigel's role as a climate champion in this exciting interview.

How did it feel to be appointed the UK's High-Level Climate Action Champion for COP26?

“Well, sometimes you get asked to do something and it takes you a long time to go, ‘I'm not sure whether I should do this.’ It took me about three seconds to accept the role; it felt like something I had been preparing for my whole adult life. So, it felt great, I’m very honoured.”

What is ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) and why is it an important aspect of sustainability?

“Well, I think it is a little bit like ‘yesterday's acronym’ for a series of reasons. The reason why I say it's ‘yesterday's acronym’ is because it gives the impression that environmental, social and governance issues are separate from mainstream issues of how businesses are performing.

"If you think you can worry about a business's success Monday to Friday and then Friday evening, worry about ESG, then you're missing the point. If you're running a car company, for example, how fast you electrify is not an ESG issue, it's a business strategy.

“So, I think ESG is a placeholder for a set of issues that financial markets haven't been taking seriously, but now they're being mainstreamed.”

You are the former CEO of WE MEAN BUSINESS, where you worked with global leaders to accelerate action on climate change. Could you tell us more about this role?  

"Our part was bringing a very positive business voice to Paris and securing the Paris agreement, that was a really crucial moment of global solidarity.

“The conditions were created for businesses, cities, civil society, all the countries of the world from the very big to the very small, coming together and doing something that really transcended selfish individual actions.

"I think whatever small part I played in securing the Paris agreement would be my proudest achievement.”

In your personal life, which everyday changes have you made to decelerate climate change?

"Easy one is using 100% renewable electricity, by putting solar panels on the roof!

“A more significant change has been my diet. I'm almost exclusively vegetarian now, I'm what people call a flexitarian. But from growing up as a kid eating meat every single day of the week, I only eat it once a month now.”

This exclusive interview with Nigel Topping was conducted by Jack Hayes.


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