Cop26 has put a firm focus on how we accelerate the transition towards net zero carbon emissions. While business is expected to take a leading role in this ambition, it can’t be expected to carry the full burden on its own: governments and, crucially, all of us as individuals will need to step up if we’re to create a lasting legacy.

While there’s a long journey ahead, it’s important to acknowledge the sustainability-focused changes going on across multiple industry sectors now, including within energy where many traditional oil and gas companies are taking a leading role in transitioning to lower carbon alternatives.

The food and drink sector, including whisky producers, construction, fashion companies and tourism are among other sectors which are developing innovative solutions to promote greater sustainability across
their operations.

At CMS we are committed to a programme of reducing and offsetting carbon emissions across our entire portfolio to net zero by 2025. We’re also playing a proactive role in supporting the efforts of other business in their ambition to lower their carbon footprint.

Last month we launched the CMS Cop26 Hub, an online resource which has been updated with new content throughout and in the wake of the UN conference.

The Hub provides helpful insights into the challenges in achieving net zero and highlights opportunities for business in tackling climate change including green finance, renewable energy, and new technology to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Governments clearly have a key role to play in delivering a greener future and it’s been encouraging to see a strong commitment coming from both the Scottish and Westminster Government on this issue.

They will, however, need to step up and ensure these commitments will be supported by further investment, including additional public sector and academic initiatives, working in partnership with business to develop cleaner and greener alternatives.

Innovative projects such as the Zero Emission Train Project, involving Scottish Enterprise and Transport Scotland and which aims to develop the use of hydrogen trains on Scotland’s rail network, provide encouraging evidence of that investment.

As important as the innovation and investment coming from business and the ongoing support from government are in addressing climate change, the final crucial piece of the net zero jigsaw sits with every citizen.

Many of us will have to make difficult decisions about how we live and the choices we make as consumers to affect change. We need to begin this process through a school curriculum that’s more STEM-focused to give the required grounding young people will need to address these challenges.

CMS is proud to be at the forefront of this particular challenge. We’ve partnered with Young Citizens, an education charity, to create ‘Climate action: Using the law to drive change.’ This new educational programme aims to develop UK secondary school students’ understanding and critical thinking around climate action including a focus on UN Sustainable Development Goals, why they are important and how they are monitored.

One positive outcome of the pandemic is that it made many of us appreciate the cleaner air and other environmental benefits that occurred during lockdown.

After this period of reflection and at a time when we’re witnessing increasing global strife with flooding, fires, earthquakes and extreme weather, many of us will want to ensure Covid-19 provides a catalyst for meaningful and long term change.

While the Glasgow Climate Pact agreed by nearly 200 countries at Cop26 keeps the aim of limiting global temperatures to a maximum 1.5C alive, there is still a long distance to travel on our journey to net zero.

By ensuring business, government and individuals work closely together and commit to sustainable measures going forward we can achieve this critical goal and safeguard a better future for generations to come.

Allan Wernham is the Managing Director (Scotland) at CMS