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It All Adds Up To Net Zero

Our efforts and positive impact are amplified when we work together.

This week I had the privilege of joining with other leaders from the global events industry at COP26 in Scotland. I was there to represent industry suppliers who have signed the Net Zero Carbon Events Pledge. (Watch the streamed broadcast.) At last, we have industry-wide traction around plans to eliminate waste across the breadth of our supply chains. It felt good to have solidarity around such a globally important issue; at the same time, it seems as if we’ve already run a marathon just to get to the starting line of this next, critically important race. 

Freeman has been setting the pace for a while now. As an industry leader, we recognized the need to model sustainable practices for the events industry. In 2015, Freeman became the first general contractor in the event industry to achieve LEED® Silver Certification status for new construction using sustainable design and construction methods. In 2016, we received the prestigious ISO 20121 Event Sustainability Management System certification, the first in our industry to do so on a global scale. In 2017, Carrie Freeman Parsons, Freeman’s Board Chair, officially outlined our sustainability plan and included that commitment in our corporate manifesto. We have built sustainability standards into our service agreement, and in 2019 launched a robust Sustainable Events offering. In our policies and strategic imperatives, we have been intentional about making improvements in four areas of impact: resources, energy, air, and people. 

We have pursued these actions not because we are good, but because we are good business people. And that’s what makes the events at COP26 significant. Companies from around the world, from virtually every industry sector, have reached the same conclusion — that this is good business. With this pledge, we commit to the following: 

  • By 2023, publish our organization’s pathway to achieving net zero no later than 2050
  • Find ways to significantly reduce global GHG emissions 50 percent by 2030
  • Measure and track progress according to industry best practices — and report on progress every two years
  • Collaborate with partners, suppliers, and customers to drive change across the value chain.

This last aspect of the pledge is one I will personally champion. As we saw during the darkest days of the pandemic, our efforts and our positive impact are amplified when we work together. I have a passion for our industry and for the innovation that is only possible when people meet face to face, rub ideas together, spark new thinking, and ignite the flame of progress. How many research doctors, working in labs thousands of miles apart, have discovered new solutions after meeting at a medical conference? And how many lives have been touched, or even saved, by those solutions? How many entrepreneurs, shopping at a national trade show, have found exactly the right product to help them launch their start-up and bring new employment and tax revenues to their communities? We will never know how many breakthroughs were delayed or disrupted by the pandemic; we know we cannot allow further disruption because of unchecked climate change.

It’s imperative that we work together as an industry to minimize our carbon footprint now, even as we advance long-term, meaningful progress. By signing this pledge, we agree to stop acting wastefully. We agree to work together to establish sustainable progress in the events industry, to bring greater value to the people we serve, and to promote healing for the planet we call home. 

If your organization is interested in signing the pledge, please join us.