Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Leadership For A Sustainable Future

This post is from a consultant placed by Debby Lloyd last year. It is our privilege to place “the best of the best” in the market. They then become the heart of influence on some of the most strategic and complex carbon management programmes in global industry today. Their insight into the challenges faced is unique. We are delighted to give them a platform for their personal views – which let’s face it in consulting can rarely be aired or discussed to maintain that fine line of objectivity on a project. So we cherish their input, give them a platform and respect their anonymity … but we know they welcome hearty debate so do comment!

With climate and sustainability scientists becoming increasingly gloomy, do we need to see more leadership and less haggling over policy detail in order to achieve a sustainable future?
The Climate Safety Report, written by the Public Interest Research Centre and released in November 2008, reviewed research published the IPCC’s report of October 2007 including:  
  • 2008 was the year of minimum Arctic summer ice volume—70% below the 1979 volume. It is clear that that Arctic sea ice is disappearing much faster than the IPCC’s end of century prediction. Pen Hadow’s Catlin Survey, advised by EcoSearch and now underway, will provide the detailed data to measure permanent Arctic ice thickness. 
  • As the Arctic melts, increased warming in surrounding regions will be seen up to 1500 km inland into area of continuous permafrost. This permafrost contains twice as much carbon as previously thought—double the amount currently in the atmosphere. The effect of this warming permafrost is not presently incorporated in any global climate models.
  • Greenland’s 2007 melt was 60% greater than the next highest year of 1998.
  • While the IPCC predicted sea level rise of 0.5m to 1.4m by 2100, James Hansen, of NASA, in taking long term feedback mechanisms into account, predicts a rise of 0.5m by 2050.
While the UK and the EU have certainly demonstrated leadership over the past years in setting policy and drivers to reduce carbon emissions, changes are implemented slowly, very slowly.
DEFRA recently announced that UK greenhouse gas emissions (2% of global emissions) had fallen by 1.7% from 2006 to 2007 and in total by 21.7% from 1990 to 2007 . Laudable indeed, but the UK Climate Change Committee recently set a 2020 target reduction of 34% or 42% if there is a global deal to cut emissions--almost doubling the average annual reductions the UK have achieved over the past 17 years.

In the EU, there seems to be a tendency to attempt to achieve consensus through endless consultation and in some cases, near-perfect standards and targets. Jonathan Porritt has been decried for raising the issue of population growth as the elephant in the room. Plans for a third runway at Heathrow have been approved. Leadership seems to falter.

Okay, so the UK could try harder, but at least the UK and the EU have been trying for the last 17 years. The Americans have a massive challenge, their greenhouse gas emissions (representing around 20% of global emissions) have risen by 16.7% from 1990 to 2007.  

So far, President Obama seems to be supporting two targets for the USA: cutting U.S. greenhouse gas emissions back to 1990 levels by 2020, and an 80 per cent reduction from 1990 levels by 2050. While the second is in line with the UK’s targets, the first, while ambitious for America (and by the way, matching the annual reductions achieved by the UK over the past 17 years), doesn’t meet the expectations of the rest of a hopeful world placing enormous environmental expectations on the new President. Nonetheless, while the Americans are coming late to the party, watch out, EU. Americans have shown repeatedly throughout history that once they “get” a concept, their focus, drive, pragmatism and energy enables them to leap frog the slow, steady results achieved by others.  

And certainly, Obama has the charisma, persuasiveness and intelligence (in sum, leadership) to cut through the treacle, set ambitious targets and motivate the interests of his country and others to achieve them. Sometimes, it is about simplicity and not being distracted by too much detailed policy.  

And as the Climate Safety Report concludes, we need to convey a hopeful and viable future vision which is coherent and compelling. We need big asks. We must challenge political “realism”. We also must start the tough debates about population control and what sustainable consumption actually looks like. In short, we need leadership to achieve a sustainable future, and we must not be distracted by our short term commercial and political interests—even in tough times.

Image by nick_russill

1 comment:

  1. Industrial Society Destroys Mind and Environment.

    Industrial Society is destroying necessary things [Animals, Trees, Air, Water and Land] for making unnecessary things [consumer goods].

    "Growth Rate" - "Economy Rate" - "GDP"

    These are figures of "Ecocide".
    These are figures of "crimes against Nature".
    These are figures of "destruction of Ecosystems".
    These are figures of "Insanity, Abnormality and Criminality".

    The link between Mind and Social / Environmental-Issues.

    The fast-paced, consumerist lifestyle of Industrial Society is causing exponential rise in psychological problems besides destroying the environment. All issues are interlinked. Our Minds cannot be peaceful when attention-spans are down to nanoseconds, microseconds and milliseconds. Our Minds cannot be peaceful if we destroy Nature [Animals, Trees, Air, Water and Land].

    Destroy the system that has killed all ecosystems.

    Destroy the society that plunders, exploits and kills earth 365 days of the year and then celebrates Earth Day.

    Chief Seattle of the Indian Tribe had warned the destroyers of ecosystems way back in 1854 :

    Only after the last tree has been cut down,
    Only after the last river has been poisoned,
    Only after the last fish has been caught,
    Only then will you realize that you cannot eat money.

    To read the complete article please follow any of these links.

    Industrial Society Destroys Mind and Environment

    Industrial Society Destroys Mind and Environment

    Industrial Society Destroys Mind and Environment

    Industrial Society Destroys Mind and Environment

    Delhi, India