“Net zero terrifies me,” says Deborah Meaden

Philippa Forrester interviews Deborah Meaden at InstallerSHOW 2024

Deborah Meaden is very clear about her stance on sustainability, says Jess Shanahan, who attended her keynote at InstallerSHOW last week.

Meaden’s views on sustainability are clear from her investment record on Dragons’ Den — most notably her support of Fussy, a sustainable deodorant brand working to eliminate single-use plastics – and she explained why in a Q&A with Philippa Forrester in the elemental Arena.

Meaden’s interest in this area goes back much further than her time on the show, as she explained: “I went to business college in Brighton and my thesis was on climate change. When we were talking about it 40 years ago, it was something that was going to happen way into the future, beyond my lifetime. Well as it happens, it is happening in my lifetime, and it’s gathering pace.”

The drive towards a more sustainable culture is important but Meaden urged us not to lose sight of what’s important. She shared a headline comment, saying, “Net zero terrifies me.” It’s not that she disagrees with the pursuit of net-zero goals, it’s that she feels we’re missing the bigger picture. 

“Everyone is so focussed on the net-zero target that they completely ignore the other half of the coin: nature,” continued Meaden. “We cannot reach net zero unless we start respecting nature.

”The other point about nature is that it’s a solution to so many of the problems we currently have. It’s great! So, net zero has always worried me, and I’ve been proven right because when you look at all the targets, it’s all about decarbonisation. Of course, it’s important, but it really has pushed nature out.”

Meaden highlights the need for people to advocate for nature. We must remember the vital role nature plays and remind ourselves of the fundamentals, such as reducing our reliance on single-use plastics.

For anyone who attended the InstallerSHOW, it was a clear coming-together of businesses all focussed on sustainability and net zero. Meaden recognised the importance of this, she said: “I’ve visited several stands that are all about bringing all the innovations together and that’s a huge step forward. Humans are amazing and do amazing things and I needed to see that journey because sometimes I think ‘I don’t know if we’re going to do this’. So to walk into an industry and think ‘we can do this’ is an important moment.”