Progress is not always linear

In a ‘Carbon Sessions’ podcast, Dr. Ioannis Ioannou shares his perspectives on sustainability

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In a recent Carbon Sessions podcast (The Carbon Almanac Podcast Network, ‘ESG with Professor Ioannis Ioannou’, Episode 32, 7th October 2022) Dr. Ioannou speaks to Jennifer Swanson about the challenges and opportunities for businesses and corporations to lead the path to a more sustainable future.

Professor Ioannis Ioannou goes on to explain how implementing corporate responsibility practices leads to complex transformation and often requires companies to become industry disruptors.

When asked what personally ‘lights up’ his own personal perceptive on sustainability, Dr. Ioannou says that while he acknowledges the urgency of the climate crisis, there is still time to address it.

“As Michael Mann, professor of atmospheric science at Pennsylvania State University, describes in his latest book, The New Climate War: The Fight to Take Back Our Planet, there is urgency, but there is also agency. Mann says that for organisations looking to stall climate action, climate denial has become passé. Instead, such organisations have turned to carbon shaming, ‘it’s-too-late climate doomism’, and stirring up fights among climate advocates, all to paralyse behaviors and policies that could help us fight climate change.”

Dr. Ioannis says that it is important to ask oneself, ‘what can I do in my career, and as a business leader?’. By asking these hard questions, it helps individuals to address climate change and to forge a new agenda on sustainability within the business ecosystem.

It is easy to become pessimistic, says Ioannou, and yet it is worth reflecting that the wider social licence for sustainability has changed the world, turning it away from a peripheral issue to a mainstream concern which everyone needs to take ownership of. Now large companies are engaged with the sustainability and related issues and are demanding ESG into their investment decisions.

“Remember, the corporate graveyard is littered with companies that failed to navigate past disruptions such as the one we are going through now,” says Dr. Iaonnou.

Towards the end of the conversation, Prof Ioannou reminds us that each of us is a consumer, an employee, an investor and an advocate. This combination of roles provides us with a multidimensional power that we can exercise to drive change and build a better future.

“Sustainability is not someone else’s problem it belongs to everyone,” says Ioannou. “Progress is not always linear. One often has to take three steps back, and then three steps forward before lasting progress can be made.”