On the climate crisis and human rights

Climate justice, climate crisis illustration on turquoise

This summer we were super lucky to welcome Marcus Pettersson, a Law student at the University of Exeter, to join us for a remote circular-economy-focused internship at Leap. It was part of a new research project called Arca, aimed at accelerating circular skills for Cornwall and Isles of Scilly. Accelerating Circular Skills for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, better known as Arca, is a collaborative research project that delivers workshops and training programmes to individuals, microbusinesses and SMEs, supporting them to move towards circular economic models. Led by the University of Exeter, in partnership with Truro & Penwith College, the project is part-funded through the European Social Fund (part of the European Strategic Investment Framework for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly). This was a great opportunity to tap into the expertise and enthusiasm of the student body, the voices leading the way into the future, through a real-life business challenge. Using Marcus’ knowledge from his studies around Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), he helped us develop a climate justice report for the business. It highlights the close interconnection between climate justice and human rights.

The social impact of the climate crisis

“Leap views climate justice as a shift in thinking about the climate crisis; climate justice seeks to expand on our knowledge and understanding of the consequences of climate change from solely environmental, to view the social impacts of an unstable and changing climate.” Human rights articles like – Right to food, Right to clean water, Right to environment and even Right to life are directly affected by the climate breakdown. Marcus’s report breaks the path towards climate justice down into four steps or stages: Understand Understanding climate justice and how we, as a company and individuals, can have an impact on climate change and human rights globally. We understand that we can make a change. Identify Identify what issues we can address and how these can be changed for the better. Connect Change cannot be made in isolation. We must connect with people on all levels, from our customers, suppliers, employees, and so called competitors. Engage We don’t have all the answers on how to protect human rights in this climate crisis – we are constantly trying to improve and develop – but we are excited to get stuck in.

Marcus’s experience at Leap

“I joined the Leap team as part of Arca, a summer internship programme provided through the University of Exeter. I was invited to help Leap develop their social sustainability as a business by creating a report on how Leap can address human rights abuses within climate justice. I was excited to approach this subject matter and was surprised that a local Truro company would be actively working towards developing solutions for a global issue.”

photograph of Marcus Pettersson

“I have always loved falling into a rabbit hole of research and this project really did not disappoint. I was a bit shocked at how much I didn’t know about climate justice let alone how human rights are violated as a result of climate change.

Climate justice has become one of those buzzword phrases, but we never really take the time to understand. There is just so much information to process – everything from the distribution of greenhouse emissions between the global north and south, to how natural disasters threaten human rights.

This presents people with a big obstacle as it’s a monumental task to distil all of this information into an understandable concept. This was the core reason for my project: to make climate justice tangible. To make connections to other issues, like how climate change is impacting the human rights of people and ultimately, how individual companies can work towards actual real change. A challenge, but also very fun!

Going into the internship, I wasn’t expecting the level of input and ownership I would have over the final product. When checking in with MD Simon Thomason, the focus was not on how I should be designing the project, but it was more on what the Leap team could do to help me in achieving my goal. This made me feel like I was more part of the team, rather than just a summer intern, and made me feel equally able to contribute. I feel that equates to the heart of how Leap operates – thoughtful and optimistic, that everybody has their own unique contribution to our shared vision of creating a sustainable world.

I really enjoyed having the practical application of concepts that we are taught at University presented and put into action. As students, we are taught that we should be implementing Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), climate justice, zero emissions goals, etc. into our future impacts in work but we are never really taught any tangible examples of this. In comparison, during my time at Leap, I was introduced to how Leap aims to fix these issues – everything from equality and diversity plans and participation in the community to making a better working environment for employees. To this, I was inspired by the amount of effort that Leap puts into development in sustainability, both socially and environmentally and as a result, having economic sustainability.

I would like to thank Simon and everyone at Leap for this time, I have learned a lot!”

If you would like to view the full report, email [email protected] and we’ll get it to your inbox.