Ethny Childs
August 2021

STAGES on the road to COP26: Green Society theme wrap-up

In the run-up to COP26, the IES has been hosting a number of discussions and events exploring six key themes in our STAGES on the road to COP26

We have just wrapped up the latest theme: Green Society. This fourth stage investigated the ways that society needs to change for a successful green transition, examining both the skills and knowledge that will be needed and the importance of promoting systemic change. The recent publication of the sixth IPCC report, outlines the stark need for a rapid transition to a green society and underlines the importance of moving from rhetoric to action.

We explored this topic through two webinars and two panel discussion events. You can catch up on the recordings from the events here: 

Catalysing systemic change

One of our discussion events explored how we can move beyond the rhetoric of supporting systemic change to promoting systemic change through actions. This explored the role of collaboration, individual behaviour change and cultural change in supporting the systemic change needed to achieve climate ambitions. 

 A focus on skills

A successful green transition will need to be underpinned by a workforce equipped with low-carbon and sustainability skills and knowledge. Environmental professionals will be integral to this; as we begin this transition, the environmental sector will become more closely integrated with all other sectors and industries. Our second panel event discussed the levels at which the skills agenda needs to be supported, looking through both a political lens and exploring the implications for educational institutions and the current workforce. Key areas of discussion: 

Throughout July and August we conducted a survey of our members to get their opinions on the skills needed to meet climate and net zero ambitions. The survey results highlight the need for upskilling and reskilling of the environmental professions, with over one-third of respondents feeling they lacked the necessary skills to support net zero ambitions. Of particular importance is the need for a greater focus on building communication and influencing skills amongst environmental scientists, so that they can communicate key climate and net zero messages to a range of different audiences and in a way that elicits action. 

Here at the IES, we will be using the results of this survey to inform future membership services, helping to support the environmental sector in the transition to a green society. 

Read the results (pdf)

What next?

Our fifth stage on the road to COP26 will look into questions of economic transformation, green finance, and our ability to create just transitions towards net zero.