It’s a curious state of affairs – we don’t want Growth Neutral businesses or Neutrally Beneficial social organisations so why Carbon Neutral? The very term implies that there is not a major opportunity to be found in addressing climate change.
Thomas Friedman highlights this and the coming revolution for business, societies, countries and organisations to seek a carbon advantage.
As we transform our economy and build renewable, smart, reliable, efficient power throughout all our activities, we create jobs, social outcomes and also new norms for business. Paul Gilding recently pointed this out arguing the global financial crisis will not sideline sustainability.
Yesterday, Nick Stern author of the UK’s 2006 economic climate change report spoke of this directly to the G20 countries. The opportunity is to invest heavily in energy efficiency and green technology using stimulus funding. It’s a call that some countries have already begun to act on.
Which leads back to the Carbon Advantage – companies and organisations acting now will not just help to answer society’s challenges. It also delivers real benefits for the businesses and organisations that do so.
The Obamas are about to plant a veggie patch at the Whitehouse. It’s not a new idea – Eleanor Roosevelt helped lead the way during the Second World War. But it is a great example of fast change – change that could create a more sustainable world.
Within a couple of years from the start of the war, by 1942 to 43, these home gardens were producing about thirty to forty percent of the US’s veggies – not bad for backyard patches…
Nicholas Stern, ex World Bank Chief Economist and author of the UK Government’s economic review of Climate Change, recently linked recovery from the Global Financial Crisis and responding to climate change.
He says the good news is that there are great returns to handling these two things together. While there are undoubted pitfalls to avoid, current circumstances are also a huge opportunity – climate change and the financial crisis are intrinsically linked. Stern says now is precisely the moment to change to a low carbon economy.
UK Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, is about to address the USA Congress and a global New Deal plus financial stimulus is on the agenda. So will this be a financially and environmentally sustainable new deal? There are some signs.
A snapshot – we have far more funding for energy programs in the US than any bill in history. The UK aims to access a £1 billion economic boost from energy. 3.9 of the 42 billion Australian financial stimulus goes to home insulation and solar hot water.
It is not just government. Recently investors, with US$ 3 trillion in assets, highlighted that climate actions can create $144 billion in savings. McKinsey, in its revised global Pathway to a Low Carbon Economy, finds the global investment required to address climate change is reasonable and “many of the opportunities would see future energy savings largely compensate for upfront investments.”