Big Pivot: Business Can Play a Profitable Role in Combating Climate Change, with Andrew Winston

Andrew Winston is a bestselling author and business strategist who has advised some of the world’s top companies on environmental matters. In his new book, The Big Pivot, Winston advocates for a major shift in business priorities away from short-term earnings and toward long-term sustainability. Despite outside pressure to achieve quick wins, Winston believes the business community can help tackle some of the world’s most pressing issues (such as climate change) “using the tools of capitalism, markets, and competition to do it most profitably.”

In his recent Big Think interview, Winston calls climate change “arguably… the greatest challenge we face for humanity.” Not only does it have a negative effect on our environment, climate change has been and will continue to be catastrophically expensive for both the public and private sectors. Yet, thanks to efforts to raise awareness about its many costs, Winston expresses confidence that the growing environmental movement can make a lasting impact. All they need is help from the outside.

Winston illustrates two key reasons why the business world is sometimes sluggish on environmental issues. The first is that common myths still plague sustainability, most notably the myth that “there’s this fundamental trade-off between trying to manage these big challenges in a profitable way and just managing your bottom line in a normal way.” For a long time, green products and services were known to be quite expensive. That dated reputation has persevered despite the fact that it’s no longer steeped in truth. Businesses are slowly coming to realize this:

“There’s a whole category of things that companies do that save money very quickly. All things that fall under kind of the banner of eco-efficiency or energy efficiency. I mean, in part, green is about doing more with less. That’s just good business and so that part of the agenda has become much more normal in companies and they’re finding ways to cut costs dramatically.”

More than just these quick and easy fixes, it’s never been more economical to do something like install solar panels on the company’s roof:

“The cost of that has been dropping dramatically, 70-80 percent reduction in cost of, you know, using solar power in the last five years. So the economics have shifted. This is now very good for business. Almost all of the agenda of The Big Pivot is good for business in the long term, in the medium term and very often in the short term. So there isn’t this tradeoff. This is the path to growth. This is the path to innovation.”

The second obstacle facing Winston’s big pivot is the media, specifically its unsettling reluctance to cover issues related to climate change. Winston points to the recent climate march in New York that drew 400,000 people to the Big Apple yet was barely a blip on the press’ radar:

“There’s a very strange thing that’s happened where, I don’t know, climate change is boring, it’s not sexy, it doesn’t seem exciting and so it doesn’t get the coverage it needs… And it’s a shame. I think there’s an opportunity to highlight how far we’ve come and the opportunities we have to change our lives for the better and make business a part of the solution and make it more prosperous and more profitable. And I think we’re missing out on telling that story.”

So Winston’s goals for enacting the ideas espoused in his book are to dispel the common myths about the monetary price of going green and to raise awareness through media channels. Once those benchmarks are cleared, there will be little standing in the way of a business-led environmental revolution.

Citation: Winston, A.[Big Think]. (2014, November 5th). Business Can Play a Profitable Role in Combating Climate Change[Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N3CxMZOmCgo

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Global Energy Demand To Soar By 2040, Putting ‘Stress’ On World Supplies: IEA Report

A technician repairs power supply lines at a power plant in the western Indian state of Gujarat. In its annual World Energy Outlook report, the International Energy Agency on Wednesday said India would become the world's "leading engine of energy demand" by 2040.

A technician repairs power supply lines at a power plant in the western Indian state of Gujarat. In its annual World Energy Outlook report, the International Energy Agency on Wednesday said India would become the world’s “leading engine of energy demand” by 2040.

Global energy demand is set to soar over the next two decades, threatening to “stress” the world’s energy systems as countries struggle to maintain supply, the International Energy Agency said Wednesday. The agency advised that significant investments and policy changes are needed to ensure that enough oil and natural gas are drilled and renewable energy projects are developed to match the pace of global consumption.

In its annual World Energy Outlook, the Paris-based agency projected that global demand will rise by 37 percent by 2040. “As our global energy system grows and transforms, signs of stress continue to emerge,” IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven said in a statement.

That growth, however, actually signals a slowdown in demand compared with previous decades. Aggressive policies and new technologies to boost energy efficiency in buildings, factories and cars have helped to curb some of the world’s appetite for energy. The pressure on energy systems “would be even greater if not for efficiency measures that play a vital role in holding back global demand growth,” according to an agency press release.

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According to the IEA report, the use of coal and oil will steadily plateau, while natural gas use and consumption of low-carbon fuels like nuclear power and wind and solar will grow the strongest. Renewables could account for nearly half of the world’s increase in power generation over the next three decades, and overtake coal as the leading source of electricity, the agency said.

“Renewables are expected to go from strength to strength, and it is incredible that we can now see a point where they become the world’s number one source of electricity generation,” Van der Hoeven said.

Much of the growth in global energy demand will come from India, which would overtake China as the leading engine of energy consumption by the mid-2020s as China’s population levels off and its economic growth slows, the IEA said in its report.

Citation:

Gallucci, M. (2014, November 12). Global Energy Demand To Soar By 2040, Putting ‘Stress’ On World Supplies: IEA Report. Retrieved November 14, 2014, from http://www.ibtimes.com/global-energy-demand-soar-2040-putting-stress-world-supplies-iea-report-1722440

Climate Panel Issues Dire Report as Renewables Make Little Impact

By David Talbot on November 3, 2014

The latest comprehensive global scientific assessment of climate change, released on Sunday, sounds the direst warning yet about the need to drastically reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. But despite years of such reports, fossil-fuel use and human-caused emissions continue to rise, and renewable energy technologies have so far failed to make a significant difference.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a U.N.-convened panel of the world’s scientific community, estimates that in order to have a 66 percent chance of limiting total average warming to less than 2 °C relative to preindustrial levels—a goal widely seen as a threshold beyond which severe changes are far more likely—the world’s human population can emit no more than one trillion tons of carbon dioxide, and that we’ve already emitted more than half that much.

Avoiding going over one trillion tons would mean reducing greenhouse-gas emissions 40 to 70 percent by 2050 and slashing them to almost zero by 2100, the report estimates.

Such estimates were first made in 2009 (see this Nature paper) without prompting much in the way of policy changes to reduce emissions. But this is the first time the IPCC has embraced the concept of a global carbon budget in one of its comprehensive sets of assessments, which the panel issues every few years. On Sunday, the IPCC released the synthesis of the fifth set of such reports since 1990.

The task ahead is now far clearer for countries that have signed on to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), says Myles Allen, lead author of the 2009 paper, who heads climate research at the Environmental Change Institute of the University of Oxford’s School of Geography and the Environment. These nations will meet for the next round of climate talks in Paris in late 2015.

With the IPCC having reviewed and endorsed the idea of a carbon budget, nations “haven’t got any excuse to ignore it now,” he says. “It’s not for the IPCC to recommend policy, but speaking personally, I very much hope [the countries] will now acknowledge the fact that their two-degree goal implies a cumulative limit on carbon emissions. And it is a limit we are rapidly approaching.”

At current rates, the “budget” would be spent in just 30 years. Reducing emissions below the threshold is a monumental task. It would require large-scale burial of carbon dioxide from many hundreds of existing coal power plants—but this effort has barely begun (see “Carbon Sequestration: Too Little, Too Late?”). In addition, it would require almost quadrupling the present supply of renewable energy and nuclear energy, the report estimates, as well as other vast efforts, including stopping deforestation and making widespread changes to agriculture practices.

And yet emissions keep rising. As one example, coal power plants already produce more than 14 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year (that’s about four billion tons of carbon) and are becoming more numerous.

If we continue on the current path, heat-trapping gases will build up to produce a surge in average global temperatures of 3.7 °C to 4.8 °C by 2100. The result will be a dangerous rise in sea levels, more profound droughts and heat waves (greatly stressing world water and food supplies), and more powerful storms and floods.

The idea of a carbon budget could clarify matters for governments, says Tim Profeta, director of the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University. “This concept might prove useful at the negotiating table, as it changes the question from one of annualized emissions of individual nations,” he says. “Negotiations could then focus on how to divide that budget amongst individual countries.”

The IPCC says it is at least 95 percent certain that human activities, led by the burning of fossil fuels, are the main cause of the climate change seen since 1950, up from 90 percent in the previous assessment in 2007 and 66 percent in 2002. Its report is based on 30,000 scientific papers studied by about 830 authors and 2,000 reviewers.

Citation:
Talbot, D. (2014, November 3). Climate Panel Warns Again of Disastrous Climate Change | MIT Technology Review. Retrieved November 9, 2014.

Social Media 101

SOCIAL MEDIA 101

The relationship between the brand and the consumer has evolved significantly over the last decade. And the main driving force behind this fundamental evolution is the all-mighty “SOCIAL MEDIA”. The world is shrinking; technology is growing at an exponential pace and we, the consumers are now spending significant potions of our lives online. And businesses around the world are recognizing this cue and are engaging us on many levels to attract our attention. With that being said, SOCIAL MEDIA must provide results. This article explains what you must do to get that elusive SOCIAL MEDIA ROI.
Also, I love the info-graphics style it uses and believe it is the future of presentations.
In search of the elusive social media ROI, brands are doubling down on metrics around engagement, influence, or monitoring. The key pillars of social media (monitoring, analytics, engagement, reporting, and collaboration) work together; they should not be disconnected from each other or from the rest of the business.
Social media can only deliver results and ROI if it’s used as a tool to solve actual business problems. The simplest example of this is customer service: A brand needs to monitor for negative comments, engage with customers and then report whether the social customer service initiative has achieved some Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
In this infographic and the downloadable “4 Pillars of Social Media Success” whitepaper, we have tried to demystify how the most successful social media practitioners are using all these social media pillars to solve business problems, rather than just running social media initiatives for the sake of it.

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