Peter Lacy may not quite be one of the founding fathers of sustainability, but he was certainly one of the earliest and most intelligent voices in the battle against climate change.
For nearly 20 years, he has seen the main elements of positive environmental change – renewables, carbon markets and management, energy efficiency, the circular economy and so on – as a driver for growth and business transformation.
This deep experience and understanding makes Lacy, who is Chief Responsibility Officer and Global Sustainability Services Lead at the global consultancy and technology services provider Accenture, a recognised authority on the subject.
He will be a keynote speaker at a high-level Scottish environmental conference to be held on November 3. The one day online event, hosted by The Herald in partnership with the country’ network of seven innovation centres, aims to facilitate cooperation and discussion on climate-related issues.
Titled Scotland’s Countdown to COP26, it is intended to explore innovation, growth and cultural change around climate action in the run-up to this hugely influential event in Glasgow next year.
The main COP26 gathering is set to be the most important international meeting on the environment to have taken place since the 2015 Paris agreement.
Some 30,000 delegates are set to attend and it is likely to attract the attention of the world.
Lacy talks of the 2020s as being the “decade to deliver” on climate change. Past movements against climate change, he believes, have been set back by an adverse economic climate.
“However, I don’t believe that’s the case anymore.
“Our existing model of globalisation and multilateralism is under question, and the potential for technology to truly come through and deliver at scale over the next decade is there, as long as we find the right conditions.
“We also now have very ambitious climate targets and sustainable development goals.
“We’ve not made the progress we should have done on those, but we now have milestones and we have to get things right.
“Business has to step up and not just leave policymakers to drive this.”
It is vital, he adds, that business, government and civil society inject energy, momentum and commitment into this change agenda over the next decade.
Lacy sees the Countdown to COP26 event next month as being part of the acceleration that is needed as we move towards the main international gathering in Glasgow next year.
“For me, it’s about setting the context and some of the big discussions that need to be had – the practical agendas that need to be set out.
“It’s a way of advancing the debate and making sure that the drumbeat is quickening.”
He believes there is enormous potential for collaboration across different technology ecosystems to raise the bar and deliver climate goals and a net zero target.
“We don’t need new technologies, We just need the right policy signals and we need business leadership to step up.
“ In areas like renewables, energy efficiency and the electrification of transport systems, the technology is already there.”
Scotland, he adds, is showing leadership in sustainability. “I set up the first ever circular economy global awards with the World Economic Forum six years ago and Scotland won one of those.
“And some of the coherence around the framework that the Scottish Parliament has put in place is impressive.”
Others involved in next month’s event are also committed to its success. Gillian Docherty, Chief Executive of The Data Lab, explains: “Collecting and understanding actionable data is one of the keys to driving change – particularly when it comes to the energy sector and its environmental impact.
“At our sessions we’ll explore many of the ways energy is transforming itself for a net zero carbon future, from the de-carbonisation of the oil and gas industry with Colette Cohen OBE to carbon credits, cryptocurrencies, and agriculture with SEM Energy.”
And Stephen Good, chief executive of Construction Scotland Innovation Centre, said: “There are so many opportunities for the construction sector to make a positive contribution in the fight against climate change, from equipping our people with the right skills to bold initiatives such as the HALO Urban Regeneration project in Kilmarnock.
“Our line-up of speakers from across the UK and further afield will spark conversations and ideas, and it’s incumbent on us all to turn these into action as we begin the countdown to COP26 next year.”
To attend the event on Tuesday, November 3, please visit the dedicated events page – http://newsquestscotlandevents.com/events/cop26/