Working for a fantastic London-based charity, and teaming up again with Simon Bottrell of 7creative, the functionality of this site really pushed my use of Custom Post Types and inter-relating content to the max. I also did some pretty cool stuff with the jQuery Crossslide plugin, using WordPress to manage the gallery and some cool loop-stuff to populate the crossslider itself.
The climate change policy platform that’s floating just under the surface of negotiations
I was privileged to attend COP15 in Copenhagen this week as a member of the Global Commons Institute delegation, headed by Aubrey Meyer. During our attendance, I spent a fair bit of time talking about C&C theory with Aubrey, and felt motivated to share what I’ve learnt and the synthesis that this has led me to. Essentially, I think it’s the only sensible framework on which to base an international treaty that aims to be effective, simple and equitable – in this post I want to explain why.
It’s worth reading the Wikipedia page about contraction and convergence before going further with this post.
Remember that the objective is to reduce atmospheric carbon levels through reducing net carbon emissions.
Remember also the importance of equity in securing a workable policy framework. The only really fair deal would give every person in the world equal entitlement to emit carbon.
Let’s do a quick mental exercise. Work out the total amount of carbon that can be emitted over a set time (say 50 years) to avoid Catastrophic Anthropogenic Climate Change (CACC). Create a simple graph of carbon emissions over time, where the area under the line of the graph is less than or equal to the maximum amount of carbon that can be emitted to avoid CACC – that line will necessarily be heading down and to the right, as we’re currently emitting too much carbon – that’s contraction. Adjust the rate of contraction to suit a realistic carbon emission reduction schedule. Divide the amount of carbon under the line of the graph by the number of people in the world to arrive at per capita emissions entitlements.
Then, it’s simple. Nations emitting more carbon per capita than their entitlement need to reduce their emissions, or trade entitlements with nations who are under their entitlement. This provides a stable and workable framework for carbon credit trading. Nations can either reduce their carbon emissions per capita, trade to increase their per-capita entitlement, or (importantly) reduce their population to increase the per-capita amount of carbon. Inevitably due to market forces (yes this is capitalism people – but in a sensible framework),
I’m not even sure this is worth blogging it seems so obvious.
I guess the thing that crystallised this concept in my mind was that whole two-Google-searches-is-the-energy-equivalent-of-boiling-a-kettle nonsense, precipitated by a journalist from The Times doing some bad research and choosing a sensationalist headline which ensured that the story did the rounds for weeks online. Apart from the whole misleading aspect of the story, it made me think about the value of doing a Google search.
What’s easy to take for granted is the speed and power of the web in general, and search engines in particular. The web represents a pretty good approximation of the sum total of public human knowledge (with continual updating), and search engines make that information and knowledge accessible in a fraction of a second. That’s really profound. What is the value of that? Of course there is a carbon footprint involved. But what about the carbon footprint of the alternative? Going to the library and searching for hours for information? Never finding it? How much carbon is saved by saving people time?
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
As the topic of carbon emissions continues to become more and more visible on the public stage, it’s inevitable that it will feature increasingly in various marketing activities.
A story on the LowCarbonEconomy.com website today about easyJet’s call for emissions standards prompted me to think a little more about how and why carbon emissions will be used in marketing.
The Good – BSkyB
BSkyB was one of the first large organisations I heard of that asked its employees all to watch ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ together and to make a top-down decision to become a carbon neutral company. What’s interesting about the way BSkyB approached climate change is that as far as I can tell, they decided it was an issue that couldn’t be ignored because it constituted a significant business risk, as well as a matter of CSR imperative.
My favourite part of the BSkyB story (without wanting to sound too Fanboi) is that they took a very hard line with their supply chain, and essentially told them that if they weren’t carbon neutral by a certain date too, that they would be in very real danger of losing their contracts with Sky at the next renewal. I have since read case studies from several of Sky’s major suppliers (such as the Commercial group) that shows the positive and galvanising effect that Sky’s mandate had on their own businesses.
This is marketing through leadership, and undertaking something for the right reasons. Either that, or I just can’t see the ulterior motive.
The Bad – easyJet
The story that prompted my post. easyJet demanding emissions standards for air transport. Don’t get me wrong, this in itself is not a bad thing. Of course we should be pushing for higher emissions standards in every arena, but this isn’t selfless moralism by easyJet – it just suits their business because they own one of the newest fleets in the world. Guaranteed if there was a call for emissions standards that did not suit their own interests, they would be on the other side of the fence, lobbying and fighting as hard as they could.
This is not a call for progress or action on carbon emissions, this is greenwash facilitated by benefit of the fact that their fleet is newer than that of other operators.
The Ugly – America’s Power
Yuk, this is just ugly. One of their pages is called ‘77% cleaner‘, which sounds great. Except that they base this claim on five compounds and doesn’t include carbon emissions, or environmental impact in general. Coal is just a dirty fuel, causing as many health problems as environmental ones. It’s ugly because it’s just untrue. At least easyJet is being disingenuous rather than plain deceitful. Neither is a sustainable competitive advantage, but the death throes of the coal industry are particularly distasteful.
From reading the America’s Power site, you’d figure that the coal industry were a group of concerned environmentalists, forced to mine coal against their strongest desires. The reality is that their sole interest is their profit margin, and the moment that there is the possibility of being forced to clean up the environmental disasters they cause, they are very happy to restructure a business to put the clean-up costs on the public purse.
And in case you’re thinking that sounds familiar, here in the UK, we as the taxpayer are footing a