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#104 First time thrills
During our annual shareholder meeting, the Dutch NGO Milieudefensie asked if we would commit to reducing our CO2 emissions by 45% by 2030. Without any ambiguity or conditions, our leadership replied with a resounding "yes". This commitment was significant enough to warrant a positive press release from Milieudefensie, marking what I believe is a first for the organization.
Milieudefensie is known for its successful case against the fossil fuel giant Shell, proving that big businesses can be held accountable for climate action. As such, our "yes" is not merely a token gesture but a genuine indication of our commitment to tackling climate change. Milieudefensie will now review our plans, and if they deem them sufficient, we may become the first "large polluter" to gain (some of) their approval. This is why I joined BAM - we mean business when it comes to the environment.
What's more, our leadership's unequivocal response confirmed that everyone from my boots-on-the-ground position in the company hierarchy’s all the way up to the CEO is fully committed to our sustainability transition. There is literally not a single one of my six or seven consecutive superiors that cannot be seen as a leader in sustainability. This is a hugely encouraging sign for our road ahead.
Last year, after wrapping up the first 15 years of my career, I compiled a list of 50 things I wanted to learn before turning 50. The first year has been relatively low-key: I've improved my ability to light matches, learned how to solve a Rubik's Cube, and started to regain my proficiency in ice skating ("pootje over") and playing the guitar - both of which I learned as a child but had forgotten over time.
Joining an ice skating class over the Christmas break was a fun experience, especially as an adult learning alongside other grownups. It had been years since I was in a group class learning something physical. Lifelong learning is a concept that has been thrown around for years, but I never imagined it to involve middle aged people in tights having a wonderful time in the pouring rain. What I appreciate about learning physical skills is that it demands my full attention and effort. Unlike with intellectual pursuits, there is no daydreaming through the challenging bits - as I discovered when attempting to do the aforementioned “pootje over” approaching the corner at the ice rink at full speed. Luckily, the teacher had suggested we attack the corner like a gorilla. Brazenly, I shifted my weight to the outside of my left skate for the first time in 28 years. Such a thrill!
In guitar class, we were encouraged to playfully channel our inner rock star while learning a simplified version of Metallica's "Enter Sandman". There I was, not a gorilla but Kirk Hammett this time. Tum, tuhum tu tuuum. As a forty-something, it had been years since I last felt that sense of exhilaration and accomplishment over something a six year old can do.
We're embarking on another "first time thrill" as a company. While other organizations such as Tetra Pak, Autodesk, and Marks & Spencer have successfully reduced their emissions by at least 50%, there is no clear roadmap for us to follow. However, with a committed leadership team, a solid plan, and thousands of enthusiastic colleagues, I am confident that we can make significant progress towards our goal of reducing emissions significantly by 2030. As gorillas or rockstars, or something else entirely.
That said, time to pick up the guitar or I might “sleep with one eye open, gripping [my] pillow tight” in anticipation of next week’s class. Let’s rock!