Summary of a speech by Michael Izza, CEO of our partner ICAEW

It’s the issue that’s defining our time. The ‘greatest market failure in human history’. The worldwide emergency that’s bringing children to our streets, inspiring rebellion around the world, and creating a literal burning platform for businesses. 

The climate crisis

We’ve known about it for decades, but all the reasoned argument, peer-reviewed scientific enquiry and evidence have failed to move those with the institutional power to act. Instead all we get is more talk, reports and initiatives. All are generating huge promise of action, but none are leading to the market and society-wide tectonic change that is so evidently needed.

So said Michael Izza, CEO of ICAEW, who spoke recently at the premiere of Our Planet Our Business, a new film from WWF that addresses the vital role business must play in building a sustainable future. 

It’s a role that involves safeguarding not just the social wellbeing of current and future generations, but their economic development and financial stability as well. A role alongside Youth Strike 4 Climate, Extinction Rebellion and the other citizens of the world, who have gathered to demand truth and action. A role in imagining a new, better, prosperous future. 

Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, has suggested that this is our space race. Like putting a man on the moon, ending the climate crisis must become the single, unifying vision of our time.

With all of our livelihoods at stake, it’s a vision we must reach. In Michael Izza’s words,

“There can be no prosperity on a dead planet”. Without urgent action from business and governments, all our talk, reports and initiatives will simply “provide an audit trail of our self-destruction.”

Now is the time to decide whether we will continue to stumble forward, stubbornly inflexible, or have the courage to respond and evolve. The courage to become fit for purpose. The courage to develop the new ideas, industries and business models that will help us build a better future. 

With protesters in their millions taking to our streets and crying out for solutions, Michael ended his talk by asking the people in the room a simple, bold question: “what would effective rebellion look like for ICAEW and the profession?”

Their answers are beginning to emerge.

Author: Paddy Loughman