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We all love different things. Dogs or cats, the great outdoors or vibrant cities, curry or fish & chips. That’s what makes us unique and the world so interesting. As a business with over 80,000 colleagues, millions of customers and serving hundreds of communities, we know the power of people championing causes and issues they most care about. And yet greater power and momentum comes about when we find ways to harness that individual energy into causes that unite us all.

At Marks & Spencer we’ve been a big supporter of The Climate Coalition and the #showthelove campaign since its formation. And what an impact it has had! 130 diverse organisations coming together to change the conversation about climate change. Grandmothers walking side by side with eco-activists, scientists standing alongside faith leaders, politicians and business people putting green hearts on their blazers. This coalition has achieved what seemed impossible but so essential – it has found a way to involve everyone and reframe action on climate change as normal and positive.

We were delighted to receive a Green Heart hero award this week for best large business – especially at a time when our colleagues and customers are so engaged in the issue. This award is special because it recognises over a decade of sustained effort by hundreds of people in our organisation to reduce emissions in our shops, logistics networks and factories making M&S products. It also recognises the multi-year partnership with WWF and our global supply base to protect forests and fisheries and reduce the climate impact of cotton production.  The award has offered us the chance to reflect not only on what we’ve achieved over the last 12 years but also what we need to still to do and how we need to work differently.

We’ve still got plenty left on our to-do list in our own business and supply chains – we’re now tackling the more difficult issues of refrigerant gases, reducing single use plastics, rethinking logistics for ultra low emission zones, and embracing new technologies in farming and manufacturing. But these actions alone won’t be enough. We need to transform our whole society and infrastructure. And at a time when we’re seeing global action by young people we think now is the time for citizen led action.

It’s why we’re now focusing our efforts on collective action in towns and cities to create thriving, sustainable and inclusive communities.  There is huge untapped potential in hundreds of businesses connecting with their colleagues and customers as citizens to build a future where the UK no longer contributes to climate change.  Take the example set by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority with leadership by the Mayor setting out a vision for a carbon neutral city.  With several stores across Manchester we’re delighted to be playing a role in helping them achieve their goal. In the next 12 months we’ll pilot every single intervention that we can make in that region with our colleagues and customers to contribute to #GMgreencity. Additionally we’re one of a number of businesses sponsoring the Great British Spring Clean https://www.keepbritaintidy.org/get-involved/support-our-campaigns/great-british-spring-clean and this week M&S Energy (all renewable!) launched a £10,000 competition aimed at championing community energy projects in the City - https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/projects-that-matter-greater-manchester .

There’s so much going on and so much more to do but seeing young people on the streets has made us even more determined  to build a future where M&S and the UK no longer contribute to climate change. We all love different things, but we all want a planet that is protected for generations to come.