As we celebrate B Corp month this March, in a major election year globally, we take a look at the impact so many people hitting the ballot box could have on the sustainable agenda.

Last year was the hottest on global record.1 Yet, this year looks set to be even warmer. With that alarming backdrop, we enter a historic year of elections. Over 40% of the world’s population will be eligible to vote in an election in 2024.2 The countries holding elections include some of world’s biggest polluters; collectively they are responsible for more than 40% of greenhouse gas emissions.3

Therefore, this year is pivotal for climate change, as actions taken by countries in the next few years will determine the trajectory of emissions and the future of our planet. Economic concerns and global unrest are currently dominating headlines. So, will climate change make it as a campaign topic? Let’s explore the situation in the key locations of the UK, Europe, the US and India.

Economy over environment – the UK

The Government has committed to new oil and gas licenses in the North Sea and rolled back on other green policies, for example delaying the ban of new petrol cars.4

The effect of reduced economic activity, particularly caused by the pandemic, means the UK has over-delivered on its carbon reduction targets for the period 2018 – 2022. The critical decision will now be if the Government carries forward the surplus, to increase the next carbon budget by a fifth and slow the path to net zero. The Climate Change Committee has strongly warned government against this action, but similar advice was ignored five years ago.5

Labour is attempting to differentiate itself as the greener choice. However, a recent backtrack on their green prosperity plan saw it reduced from £28bn a year to under £15bn, with only a third of that as new money.6 A focus on the economy ahead of environmental commitments could be electioneering, rather than a significant shift in Labour mindset. The short-term goal of winning votes may be prioritised over the longer-term perspective needed to tackle climate change.

Many commentators believe that a Labour government would be good news for the environment. Thinktank ‘Common Wealth’ has reported that even in its reduced state, the Labour plan represents progress compared to the current Government’s. It presents opportunities for clean energy through a publicly owned company, Great British Energy.7

The rise of the right – Europe

The EU has been at the forefront of climate change policy for decades. In 2023, the Green Deal program was established, to boost the efficient use of resources by moving to a clean, circular economy and helping Europe work towards the Paris Agreement targets.8 However, rebellion has been in the air. Last year, German industry objected to electric vehicle regulations and recently Dutch farmers revolted against policies aimed at reducing high-emission fertilisers, which contributed to the shock election win for far-right radical Geert Wilders.9

As we approach the European parliamentary elections, the ‘Wilders effect’ could galvanise pushback against climate change action and influence European votes.10 A more right-wing parliament might endanger the policies that support the EU’s nature protection and net zero targets.11

Ironically, many of the challenges that climate change could bring, such as mass refugee migration due to uninhabitable homelands and economic turmoil or lack of growth, are exactly the issues that the right wing claim they are vehemently against.

Fortunately, it’s not all negative for the environment. It’s worth remembering that Europeans are still very supportive of climate action. Nearly 90% of EU citizens believe the bloc should be climate neutral by 2050.12

Polarised debate – the US

The US vote could see President Biden face climate science denier Trump. If you rewind to Biden’s previous campaign in 2020, it was the climate aware approach that gained the support of younger voters. Since then, Biden has lived up to his pledges, passing the biggest climate investment legislation in the US’s history, with billions in tax credits to incentivise clean energy.13

Let’s be clear though, last year the US also reached record levels of oil production.14

Trump asserts that his return to power would undo Biden’s sustainability efforts, including going back on a $3 billion US pledge to the Green Climate Fund. This fund was set up to support climate action in developing nations.15

The polarisation of the climate debate in the US might make life seem easier for voters, offering a binary choice, but it isn’t helpful in a world where key issues are incredibly nuanced and require a more balanced approach.

In the eye of the storm – India

India holds general elections this spring and provides a testcase for the lived impact of climate change on elections. Significant parts of the country are vulnerable to heatwaves and flooding, and the El Nino weather pattern is likely to bring more extreme weather conditions that may affect agriculture.16 In 2023, 86% of days nationwide recorded extreme weather events.17 Meanwhile, as a developing country, India is responsible for an increasing proportion of emissions and is home to nearly 18% of the world’s population.18

The main political parties have acknowledged the need to act on climate change, but so far, it isn’t featuring heavily in campaigns. This could change if more extreme weather continues to hit the headlines, although many argue that India currently sits in the balance between autocracy and pluralist democracy.19

A business forward approach

Right now, sustainability comes below many issues on the campaign trails. With economic concerns driving public sentiment and government policy, it means the role of business and private investment remains vital in supporting the environmental agenda. Afterall, a strong economy is underpinned by a healthy environment. The green economy also represents a powerful opportunity for growth and jobs.

We’re currently in B Corp month,20 which brings a chance for B Corporation accredited businesses like Holden & Partners to talk about making a true impact socially and environmentally.

The goal for B Corp in 2024 is to increase impact. There is always more we can do to improve our sustainable credentials and share our progress to inspire others. And if business can lead the way, then governments will have to listen.

1. 2023 was world’s hottest year on record, EU scientists confirm | Reuters
7. The Case for Ambitious Public Ownership of Renewable Generation: Ten Common Questions and Common Wealth’s Answers | Explainer | Common Wealth (
12. Citizen support for climate action – European Commission (
13. How is Inflation Reduction Act helping U.S. fight climate change? | Context
14. US oil output hits record as producers boost drilling efficiency | Reuters
16. Global 2024 staple food supplies to be strained by dry weather, export curbs | Reuters
17. Extreme weather 2023: India saw disasters on 86% days this year, shows DTE-CSE report (

Contact us

Whether it’s a question about your personal finances or how you can invest your wealth more ethically, we are here to help. Call us on 020 7812 1460, email or complete the form: