South West business leaders send list of five key asks to PM ahead of G7 summit

Carbis Bay Hotel

The South West’s leading business organisation has written to the Prime Minister ahead of the G7 summit to ask for leadership in helping businesses build a more sustainable future for trade that operates in harmony with our environment.

More than 230 business leaders and academics joined a virtual ‘C7’ conference hosted by British Chambers of Commerce South West (BCCSW) ahead of the G7 being hosted by the rather swanky Carbis Bay Hotel in Cornwall later this week.

Phil Smith, managing director of Business West, which is part of BCCSW, joined industry chiefs from chambers of commerce around the world to debate what business should demand of the G7 governments at the landmark summit.

He said: “The C7 conference was focused on the challenges and opportunities of a truly ‘blue and green’ economy.  It illustrated the global nature of the climate challenge and the unique ability of the Chamber of Commerce movement to engage the world’s business community in finding answers.”

Five key demands have been drawn up from the event and sent to Downing Street, including:

  1. Show businesses a path to a more sustainable future. Guide business to understand the steps needed. Business can help provide the solutions as long as they understand the route needed
  2. Balance regulation with incentive. There is a role for commitments and target setting for both government and business, but there must be a combination of carrot and stick, incentivising and helping business to take the necessary steps. Business needs support, especially as it reels from the impact of the pandemic and adjusts to post-Brexit international trade, so there should be no additional cost burden imposed upon it.
  3. Show leadership. Be strong and bold, working closely with like-minded partners who share our values and holding to account those countries that do not. Show solidarity with our G7 partners with a consistent approach to fossil fuels and waste management and reach out to help other countries work towards our goals. Work in partnership with businesses across every sector to help drive us all towards sustainable solutions.
  4. Be fair and free. People and businesses deserve a level playing field that gives opportunity to all. Ensure that the poor are not excluded by digital poverty and make sure that international corporations pay the same tax as local businesses. If 100 Corporations are responsible for 71% of emissions, then do not punish those businesses that are trying their best but go after those that are damaging the planet the most. Allow trade freely around the world and enable it to happen sustainably.
  5. Innovate and inform. Share best practice and seek out new ways to drive change in behaviours that are damaging to our planet. Ideas from the C7 conference included asking businesses to file environmental impact reports with their accounts and implementing a traffic light system, similar to that used on food packaging, to show consumers the impact products have on the environment. Work with business to find solutions and share best practice.

Stuart Elford, Chair of BCCSW – the regional affiliation of accredited county chambers in the South West – said: “The C7 conference was significant. Global business leaders united in their asks to governments. It is important that the UK plays a leading role in enabling businesses to make the change that will make our future a more sustainable one.

“We need to be able to trade freely around the world in the most sustainable way possible. To do that, businesses need help, guidance and a path to follow. Now, with the eyes of the world on us, is an opportune time to start on that path.

“The South West has an incredible opportunity to play a global role in sustainable trade that works in harmony with the world around us – we are uniquely positioned to do so. Business wants to help and BCCSW is prepared to work with the Government to achieve a more sustainable future.”

The C7 conference included speakers from around the world including former Cabinet Secretary and Head of Civil Service, the Rt Hon Lord Sedwill, and the leaders of premier business organisations and prominent chambers from across the globe.