Raccoon Events’ CEO Mike Seaman spoke at COP26, the UN Climate Change Conference on Wednesday (10 November), setting out a pathway for a more sustainable industry. Speaking at the event, Seaman put forward a strategy that emphasised the need for forward motion and a conscious approach to meet the industry’s net zero aspirations.
Raccoon Events, which employs 22 staff in the UK and US, has set the ambitious goal to get the company and its UK and US events to net zero by 2025. Seaman spoke as part of a panel discussion about the JMIC event industry net zero pledge and explained that the first step in the company’ process was to set up a sustainability working group comprising internal and external organisations including ecollective, sustainable travel partner Ecolibrium and Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHG Protocol). Together the consortium is working to assess and reduce the environmental impact of Raccoon Events’ own business practices, its suppliers and exhibitors and to develop tools to support visitors in reducing their environmental impact before exploring offsetting opportunities.
Speaking at COP26 Seaman set out that the company is currently finalising the ‘measurement’ phase of the plan: “It’s quite frustrating as a small business that just wants to act, but actually the measurement phase is the most important and we have put a lot of time, effort and money into measuring the total impact of our events. We’ve now measured our first two events and are already actioning the ‘reduce’ part of the strategy.
Seaman continued: “There is a lot of fear out there – fear of costs and fear of getting it wrong. This can sometimes cause paralysis – if something feels too big and too hard then it’s almost impossible to tackle. I certainly don’t have all the answers and as a business we’ve had to accept that whatever solution we come up with will be an imperfect one. But we didn’t want to sit still either, so we made a collective decision that we would just start, do something now, learn as we go and keep evolving.
“What we have learned so far gives us insight that we can share with our suppliers and stakeholders so that we can follow a pattern of measuring and then reducing the impact of our actions. We then develop a process of continuous improvement, every year measuring and reducing until we get to 2025. Once we get to 2025, we will then offset whatever the remaining balance is, but we continue the process of measuring and reducing every year and the hope is that we continue to reduce the amount we have to offset.”
Seaman continued: “I’m sure our strategy isn’t perfect and the danger of speaking on a platform like this is that people might pick holes and criticize the mistakes you make along the way. That is inevitable but my main focus is to create a business that has an ethical consideration for the planet and I think we are starting to get towards that.”