To Persuade 

At UKGBC we encourage our members to take credible, science-based action to mitigate their own climate impact by joining and acting on the Race to Zero, as part of our role as an Accelerator to the UN-backed campaign.    

Organisations embracing this role can help contribute to, inform, and justify the need for standards, policies and regulation that help further accelerate change. The momentum built to date by non-state actors has been substantial and significant. However, we cannot rely on voluntary and individual action alone to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement. We must combine this with regulation, public policy and systemic behavioral change. Here is where “Persuade” comes in. 

Earlier this year Race to Zero published refined compliance criteria, including the introduction of a new criterion – “Persuade” – asking its members to align their governance structures, policy lobbying and advocacy activities with their ambitions to halve emissions by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050. Persuade now represents the “Fifth P” of the Race to Zero Campaign’s criteria.

As the Race to Zero puts it; ‘voluntary work from members can be more powerful if it is combined with public policy, regulations and behavior change which can together deliver emissions reductions at the speed and scale needed to limit the worst impacts of climate change. (1)… it enhances the need and creation of robust standards for net zero alignment, and to enshrine such requirements in regulation and law.‘(2) In a few words: it amplifies your organisation’s voice. 

Why would your organisation choose to advocate and lobby for climate action? 

Policy Advisor Philip Box answers that question:

Lobbying for more ambitious government policy is vital for delivering effective and comprehensive change. Ambitious policies, regulation and fiscal incentives are essential components of accelerating the transition; helping to deliver a level playing field, set a clear direction of travel, unlock economies of scale, support key sectors and drive up ambition across the board. 

In speaking to government, different organisations voices will helped drive change and ambition in different ways. Whether in terms of providing technical expertise, innovation opportunities or demonstrating the economic case for [and benefits of] ambitious action.’

Persuade acts as a multiplier of voices; it collates the needs of organisations, raises awareness, and generates an echo that calls for change. Climate advocacy enables us to work as a system, instead of acting in silos to transform voluntary action into the rules that govern our economy.  And there is evidence that this works. Recent research by European Universities found that the increasing mobilisation of climate policy supporters positively correlates to national climate policy production. (3)   

What does Persuade look like in practice? 

Our members come from a wide range of sectors and are at different stages of their net zero journeys. Their scope of influence and expertise areas also vary, so advocating and lobbying for climate action may look very different from one organisation to the next.  

Here we bring you a range of examples of how UKGBC members are taking action to “Persuade”. 


JLL is a global provider of real estate and investment management services. They participate in the Race to Zero via the SBTi’s Business Ambition for 1.5°C campaign and The Climate Pledge.  

What made JLL decide to lobby and advocate for the delivery of the Paris Agreement? 

We identified that 96% of JLL’s total emissions come from the buildings that we manage on behalf of clients (reported under “use of sold products”). Subsequently, actively engaging our clients to also commit to net zero is central to JLL’s ambition to support the delivery of the Paris Agreement. 

And, how are you acting on this? 

In May 2021 JLL set a Global target to achieve net zero emissions by 2040, encompassing our entire Greenhouse Gas (GHG) inventory (scopes 1, 2 and 3) with a reduction ambition of 95%. This target was verified by the Science Based Targets initiative for compliance with its Corporate Net Zero Standard. As the first phase of delivering on this, we have been engaging our clients through one-to-one meetings and a client survey to understand where they have challenges in starting or progressing their journey to net zero and where we can help address these needs. We have developed a range of reports and aligned webinars to focus specifically on these challenges. This included research on decarbonizing cities and real estate which focused on helping the sector to navigate the complex global landscape of net zero commitments, regulations, reporting requirements and incentives across 32 global cities. This year we are launching a report during COP27 on Retrofitting to be Future Fit – focused on the business case for delivering net zero buildings. Building on our client research, resource development and initial engagement we will be developing a programme to engage those clients and real estate companies who are still yet to have established net zero targets or plans and have not aligned with Race to Zero.  

Moreover, toward the end of 2021, we collaborated with World Economic Forum in establishing 10 Green Building Principles to guide real estate investors and corporate occupiers on implementing and achieving their net zero targets across their portfolios. This was launched at an event at COP26 and has been shared broadly with clients.  

What difference does it make for your organization to lobby and advocate around the delivery of the Paris Agreement?  

It helps us build strong relationships with clients and be seen as trusted advisors.  We partner with UKGBC, Business in The Community (BITC) and the British Property Federation (BPF), amongst others, for our lobbying and advocating work. For example, in January 2022, Guy Grainger – Global Head of Sustainability Services and ESG took on the role of president of the BPF – with a strong commitment to work closely with them to champion the role of real estate by delivering strong, resilient and productive communities nationally and meeting ambitious targets to reduce carbon.  Emma Hoskyn, our UK Head of Sustainability sits on the BITC Climate Action Leadership Team and supports their work across sectors to advance the Race to Zero.  

We have also invested in building significant expertise within our teams in how to develop net zero strategies within the real estate sector and how to achieve net zero at an individual asset level.  

Nationwide Building Society

Nationwide Building Society is a British mutual financial institution, the seventh largest cooperative financial institution and the largest building society in the world. They take part in the Race to Zero via the SBTi’s Business Ambition for 1.5°C campaign and the Net Zero Banking Alliance. 

What made your Nationwide decide to lobby and advocate for the delivery of the Paris Agreement?  

Nationwide Building Society is the UK’s second largest mortgage provider and a leading provider of savings and current accounts. As a member owned mutual, we are not owned by traditional shareholders like a bank but instead by our 16 million members. This enables us to focus on a social purpose – ensuring everyone has a good quality home they can call their own. A key part of our commitment is this, is our action to reach net zero by 2050 and support wider global efforts to achieve this. 

What examples of lobbying and advocacy can you share? 

Sustainability, with a particular focus on housing, has formed an increasingly important part of Nationwide’s advocacy work over recent years. For example, we have worked with the UK Government, BEIS, on topics including how to improve home energy efficiency and support low carbon heating. Moreover, we have worked with HM Treasury and DLUHC on the financial issues around greening homes including pushing for tax changes. We have sought to ensure that other fundamental changes are put in place, such as better access to data around home energy use, which will enable organisations like Nationwide to push for change.  

We have also worked with our trade associations UK Finance and the Building Societies Association to encourage them to support change to deliver net zero. This has included playing an active role in sustainability committees, supporting policy calls and providing speakers for teach-ins to share our learnings. 

Nationwide also convened a Green Homes Action Group in 2021, bringing together businesses and charities with a shared interest in greening the UK homes including E.ON, Rockwool, the Federation of Master Builders and B&Q.  The Group has produced and lobbied for a set of seven core principles for Government to base its green homes activity around with the aim of achieving net zero by 2050: 1) Show people what works: a public information campaign that inspires; 2) Be fairly financed; 3) Regulate to increase the attractiveness of green retrofitting; 4) Create hundreds of thousands of jobs in green retrofitting; 5) Enable property data that is fit for the future; 6) Support green homes with green power; 7) Build green homes for the future, now.   

At an international level, Nationwide is a member of the Net Zero Banking Alliance (NZBA) and the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ) where we have played active roles in working groups on transition planning and public policy. 


Grosvenor is an internationally diversified property group that develops, manages and invests to improve property and places across many of the world’s leading cites. They signed up to the Race to Zero via the SBTi’s Business Ambition for 1.5°C campaign. 

How does Grosvenor approach advocacy and lobbying to support the achievement of the Paris Agreement?  

We advocate strongly for initiatives and policy aligned with the Paris agreement. As a long-term business we know that the later we start, the harder keeping global warming to 1.5oC will be. But no business can break the cycle alone – its only through collective action between industry sectors and ultimately governmental leadership that we can avert climate breakdown. 

So, we use our voice and convening power to change behaviours and raise awareness of opportunities and policies which support the Paris Agreement. As a COP26 Ambassador, our sustainability lead directly supported companies joining Race to Zero and this year we’re mentoring over 35 SME suppliers to help them gain a Science Based Target. In addition, from 2023 we will not mandate major contracts over £1million to suppliers without a Science Based Target and have supported two major membership organisations in the creation of their net zero goals and industry positioning this year. 

As the only European property company with a long-term and net-zero validated science-based target, our net zero ambition is integrated in to all activity and employee goals making the full business, from Corporate Affairs to development aligned to our success. Working in collaboration, we lead or participate in prominent cross sector groups advancing industry thinking and government policy including as founding partners of UKGBC’s Advancing Net Zero Carbon programme, ConcreteZero and SteelZero. We also lead a group campaigning for policy change to make it easier to make the millions of historic buildings in the UK more energy efficient and lead the heritage sector working group for the UK net zero building standard. 

Bates Wells

Bates Wells is a purpose-driven law firm, and the first based in the UK to become a certified B Corp. They take part in the Race to Zero via the Net Zero Lawyers Alliance, SME Climate Hub, and Business Declares campaigns. 

What made Bates Wells decide to lobby and advocate for the delivery of the Paris Agreement, and what does this action look like?  

As a firm we formally recognised the climate emergency and biodiversity crisis in 2019 after consulting with our staff and firm partners. In doing this, we set out our own actions and have advocated for others to take a stance through activities like the Better Business Act (we actively support the campaign and wrote the draft legislation), the British Academy’s Future of the Corporation Summit (we sponsored some of the research) and through our membership of initiatives and groups such as Business Declares, Net Zero Lawyers Alliance, greener litigation pledge etc. As a B Corp we are part of a strong and vocal community calling for action on the Paris Agreement and social justice.  

We see all our actions through the lens of our position on social and environmental justice so on a day-to-day basis we take all sorts of steps to align with the Paris Agreement. We ask our suppliers to demonstrate that they are on a net zero pathway, we are particular in the work that we take on and we work closely with others in the B Corp community and elsewhere to encourage better business practices that address the climate crisis. Our lawyers across the practice are finding ways to support our clients to be more aligned with the Paris Agreement (e.g. through bespoke work on supply chains, net zero clauses and encouraging action on climate change through real estate contracts) and in our Operations we have reduced our carbon footprint by 80% over the past ten years (scope 1, 2 and some scope 3). 

We publicly advocate for bold science-based climate policies, in the Climate report. A clear example of action is that the Butler-Sloss vs Charity Commission case we took on and won,  which clarifies the position on charity investment duties. This means that charities in the UK can now move their investments away from fossil fuels without penalty from the charity commission.

Your turn. The opportunity to amplify your organisation’s voice 

Some core themes coming out of the above examples are raising awareness amongst peers, supporting climate positive behavioral change across value chains, raising governmental awareness of the sector’s needs to get and meet the targets, and creating and participating in groups supporting emissions reduction efforts across the built environment. 

These examples highlight that policy advocacy and lobbying actions are possible, and most powerful when connected to an organisation’s core values and interests and appropriately integrated within business strategy. Acting on Persuade looks different for different sizes of organisations, but any UKGBC member regardless of size can get involved with UKGBC’s policy & advocacy as part of their Persuade strategy. Please email in order to learn more about the ways you can support their work.  

To find out more about Race to Zero’s call to members to ratchet their policy engagement and help inform, shape and drive standards, policies and regulations that support net zero, read the recently-released Pivot Report here. 

Do you have an advocacy and/or lobby example to share? Let us know.