In conversation with employees of large polluting companies. Something for you? – Environmental defense

Milieudefensies Operation Climate Groups is in negotiations with employees in large polluting companies. How do these conversations take place? We asked: Arie from Operation Climate The Hague and Leiden, Patrick from Rotterdam and Tita from Wageningen.

Would you also like to talk to employees of major polluters? Then join an Operation Climate Group in your area. This way you make new friends and positive influence at the same time!

How are the conversations going?

patrick: “We notice that employees think the climate is very important. At Unilever, employees often think that they are already working quite sustainably. But if you ask further questions, they notice that there are also areas that can be improved. They see the risks. It is noticeable that the people who work there are also preoccupied with climate policy and the future of the company. due to climate change.The latter is for example for Unilever is very important, for example the availability and affordability of palm oil and fish.If these raw materials become more expensive, it may be at the expense of staff (to keep costs down for consumers) through cut downs.

We (as Milieudefensie) are naturally concerned about Unilever’s effect on the climate. But employees primarily see the dangers to their jobs and the survival of the company. You can also see this at Tata Steel, for example, where the FNV trade union and employees have drawn up a plan for the production of green steel. They came up with that plan because they are worried about the future of the company if it does not meet its climate goals. As a result, they may lose their jobs. Employees may have a different approach than the climate movement, but the result is the same: Sustainability is important for a company’s future.

Sustainability is important for
the future of a business

During the discussions, we also noticed that some topics can easily be linked to Milieudefensie’s climate goals. Think of concerns about plastic or less biodiversity (the decline in the number of species of plants and animals). Of course, it has everything to do with CO2emissions and climate change. “

arie: “I spoke to two people at Aegon’s shareholders’ meeting, one shareholder and the boss. The shareholder was extremely ‘conservative’ and not worried about the climate. But the boss was very welcoming and pleasant to deal with. He liked to talk about what Aegon did. do for the climate, such as that they have just joined Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance. This is a group of companies that have committed to being climate neutral by 2050. He also said that they have moved out of tar sands and coal (no longer investing / financing in them) and that they want to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2025. And then every 5 years a certain percentage less. But how much less, he could not say. And that’s exactly what we want to know.

So we got some insight into reducing their CO2emissions between 2025 and 2050. The risk is that the biggest reduction will happen just before 2050. It is not urgent to be there yet and they are still not doing enough. Of course, getting rid of tar sands and coal is just the beginning. “

often: “The employees at FrieslandCampina were generally very positive about Milieudefensie. Of course, they were also the ones who wanted to talk to us, so that explains a lot. All conversations were very pleasant and civilized.

On the second day of the campaign at FrieslandCampina, someone came to us and asked if we had permission. Of course, we followed the rules properly. It is also a sign that companies are taking Milieudefensie quite seriously. “

What strikes you most during the conversations?

patrick: “That it is important in the first place to listen carefully. And if the employees do not want to talk, then also respect it. The conversation must remain open and easy. Looking back on the conversation during a conversation also works well; if everything is understood correctly, and if there are additions. Sometimes it leads to a better conversation. You do not know in advance how people will react. Sometimes it seems that someone will not talk, but then it can still be a good conversation. do not be put off when people do not want to speak directly to you. Sometimes they also come up with good and surprising tips. “

A few people at Campina were happy
Which one
Environmental Defense gets involved in the business

often: “We actually had 2 campaigns. An in-depth discussion with Unilever employees and an unannounced promotion at FrieslandCampina. I was very surprised that a few people at Campina said they were happy that Milieudefensie is involved in the company, for the is also concerned about the climate. That the campaign had such an effect is more than we dared hope for. “

What do you think the company thinks about Milieudefensie?

often: “It’s hard to say, of course, because we’ve only talked to a few employees. The people we’ve talked to were concerned about the climate. Also in their privacy. So there are a lot of employees who say they think so. is good that Milieudefensie involved in the companies.

In addition, one can see that Milieudefensie is being taken seriously by the companies. This is due to the fact that the campaign on Climate Plans has naturally also received a great deal of media attention. You can see that companies often think that they are already doing really well, while we (as environmental defenders) still see some points for improvement. “

We examined the climate plans of 29 large polluting companies. And as it turns out: they continue to pollute, as if there was no climate crisis. It’s time to tackle these companies now. Because only if everyone participates can we prevent the biggest climate disasters. Are you following? See the research on the 29 major polluters here.

arie: “Aegon’s staff did not say anything explicit about us, but I got the feeling that they respect us. Otherwise, they would have said something about it or sent us away. Environmental Defense actions are very respectful, and because Environmental Defense is so big, we can what to do. “

Do you also want to participate in the conversation campaign?

Do you want to do something for a lively planet? Then volunteer for Operation Climate! Everyone is welcome. You do not need to have experience with campaigns or organization of campaigns. So what are you waiting for? Sign up for Operation Climate!

Photo above: members of Operation Climate in conversation with employees in front of ING’s head office in Amsterdam.

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