Not Business Is Usual is a climate action group founded by Future Super, a B Corp Australian superannuation fund. Its site states that while it’s not up to the private sector to lead climate action, businesses can do their part to support this movement by joining millions of school children around the world in the climate strike, and in turn sending a strong message to governments for change.
The worldwide protests by students have followed the lead of Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg. In 2018, 15-year-old Thunberg sat on her own outside Swedish Parliament, missing school in order to protest climate change. One year later, as of today, she delivered a searing speech to the UN General Assembly 2019 about adults’ lack of action on such a universal issue.
“People are suffering, people are dying, entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth,” she told the crowd.
A video of her glaring at notable climate denier Donald Trump as he walks past her at the conference has also gone viral.
While the original plan by Future Super was to get 50 Australian businesses on board, so far, 2845 companies have joined the Not Business As Usual Alliance from across the globe, including Keepcup, Macpac, Dovetail and New Zealand's own Ākina Foundation. Global technology giant Atlassian also took part in the climate strike held in Australia, with the $US32 billion company signed a commitment to be 100 percent renewable by 2025, joining a dozen other firms.
Atlassian co-chief executive Mike Cannon-Brookes told ABC climate change is now an "existential threat" and the company is backing climate activism in the workplace as a new corporate social responsibility that is critical to the survival of capitalism.
Here in New Zealand, Colmar Brunton’s 2019 Better Futures report has found that companies that champion environmental or social issues will do well in the eyes of a consumer. The report found four out of every 10 Kiwis are highly committed to living sustainable lifestyles, particularly through their purchasing decisions.
“This growing consumer action is an opportunity for businesses to show leadership on sustainability issues,” Sustainability Business Council executive director Abbie Reynolds said.
As well as this, the majority (86 percent) of respondents agreed that it was important for them to work for a company that is socially and environmentally responsible.
School strikers in New Zealand have invited adults to walk out in solidarity with them this Friday to demand climate justice for everyone, and Wellington-based digital design agency Springload is among the New Zealand businesses taking part.
Springload CEO Bron Thomson says her company joining the climate march is one small way it can actively commit to make a change for good, and she hopes lots of other businesses will be doing the same.
“I used to think 'I'm sure someone will fix that', or 'surely that will just sort itself out' when it came to big societal issues. But if there's anything that the last few years has taught me, it's that things won't just fix themselves without us all taking action,” Thomson says.
“In fact, they are likely to get worse. As a planet, and a species, we've never faced anything as impactful as climate change before, and I believe everyone needs to act. Every individual, every company, every organisation and every government.”
She says it’s shameful that children have had to take time off school to lead the way on this, instead of adults.
“I'm mostly just ashamed. Ashamed that it's taken a 15-year-old girl and other kids from around the world to show the rest of us how it's done. To get off our arses and stand up for the changes that we need to make as a society. I'll be marching alongside my kids, and I really encourage all New Zealanders to join in.”
Through the Not Business As Usual site, businesses can sign up and pledge to follow through on one of three options: shut down for the day to allow employees to attend the rallies, offer a long lunch break for employees to attend the rallies or have a meeting-free day to show solidarity over a lack of climate action.
Otherwise, individuals can head along to one of the climate strikes happening around the country this Friday. The times and locations for the climate strikes are listed below. Further information can be found on the School Strike NZ Site.
Porirua Harbour and then into Wellington
The Dowse Square and then into Wellington
Golden Bay High School
Greymouth Town Square
Maclean Park, Paraparaumu
Dunedin Dental School
Childers Rd, Gisborne
South end of the city waterfront
Palmerston North City Council
Feldwick Gates, Queenspark
Church Hill Pikimai
Seymour Square, Blenheim
Civic Square, Hamilton
Main Beach, Opunake
Village Green, Rotorua
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