Meet the climate team

Ben Richards

Sustainability expert and Arctic explorer
Ben Richards

Climate change is complicated. But that’s not stopping people around the world to make a difference. We’re lucky to have some brilliantly diverse people leading our climate work across the firm. In this series, we help you get to know them, their areas of expertise and why they’re passionate about the planet.

Today we’re chatting to Ben Richards, a director in our Climate Change & Sustainability team, who reveals how childhood summer holidays were a starting point for his life-long interest in nature.

A town and country upbringing

“I’m the product of a teacher and a horticulturist,” says Ben, looking back on his family life near Guildford. “When I was growing up, nature was always given a special place in our house. My dad was brought up on a farm, so we spent our summers in rural Devon — much to the annoyance of my brother and I, who always wanted to go to Centre Parcs!

“Coupled with that, as a child of the late 80s and early 90s, the early environmental messages about saving the rainforest and the whales had started.”

Issues that clearly resonated, when he revisited them after his university studies.

“I started asking myself how I could best direct my career. Sustainability and climate change were the answers I got to.”
Ben Richards

Making climate science manageable

These days, Ben works with numerous major clients in the UK and beyond.

“A lot of my work involves helping them recognise where the risks and opportunities arise from climate change, and how to get their own business in order when it comes to reducing emissions. I also do a lot of education and outreach – helping clients and internal colleagues by breaking down the challenges of climate change into manageable chunks.”

An example of something he’s worked on recently?

“I’m really proud of a piece of work we did with the Met Office, which presented four scenarios to show the different possibilities ahead when it comes to climate change. Each scenario requires businesses and organisations to start thinking and acting differently now. So by choosing what kind of world we want in 2050 and working back from there, we can help people to make much better decisions.”

Lessons from the glacier

Asking for a career highlight evokes Ben’s memories of a trip to Greenland 15 years ago that still stirs him deeply:

“I was lucky enough to spend a week camping on the ice cap, working with glaciologists. And two weeks with the indigenous communities whose lives were already affected by climate change. Even in 2006, traditional ways of life that had been going on for thousands of years were no longer possible, because the sea ice just wasn’t there.

“Seeing and experiencing that first-hand was quite remarkable — and the Arctic is the canary-in-a-coal-mine. It’s an indicator of the transformation the rest of us can expect.”

Ben on his trip to Greenland

Strategists and rebel

Asked for a book or an organisation that inspires him, Ben reaches across his desk and pulls out a well-thumbed volume. “I’ve been thoroughly inspired by this — The Future We Choose by Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac. It sets up clearly some of the tough choices and principles we need to make as a society if we’re going to combat the climate crisis.

“We can also learn from organisations like Extinction Rebellion. While I don’t always agree with their means, their message is spot on. If we take planetary limits and a sustainable atmosphere as our starting point, we need to work radically and rapidly to drive the transformation we need to see in our systems. They also talk eloquently about climate change as an issue of justice – as it will hit the world’s poorest and most vulnerable the hardest.”

The journey is underway

So what is Ben’s vision for the future, in the near-to-medium term?

“If we’re doing our job properly, in a decade or two from now we won’t recognise the world we live in. Cross cutting, big ticket themes like energy and mobility will be very different – and shifts in our values will change what we eat, how we live and how we use our leisure time.”

And while he knows that big challenges remain, he’s broadly optimistic: “It’s frustrating that we’ve known about a lot of the challenges and the solutions for a long time – but we’re getting to a point of systemic enlightenment. The financial systems have started to recognise that a stable climate is a precondition of a stable economy and a stable society.”

“The cogs are turning – more and more people are getting their heads around the idea that we need to reduce our emissions, radically and now.”
Ben Richards

Meet the others

We hope you enjoyed finding out a bit more about Ben. Our climate team are here to help, so don’t hesitate to get in touch if you’d like to find out more. And if you want to meet the others, just keep reading below. We’ll introduce you to new people every month.

Veronica Poole

Veronica Poole

Corporate reporting leader and transparency advocate
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Laila Takeh

Laila Takeh

Net zero strategist and veg grower
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Siobhan Gardiner

Siobhan Gardiner

Climate tech expert and farmer’s daughter
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