I don’t want to be “the generation that blew it”!
UN Secretary General António Guterres told the plenary session at the COP24 in Katowice “We’re running out of time. To waste this opportunity would compromise our last best chance to stop runaway climate change. It would not only be immoral, it would be suicidal.”
The PM of Fiji and outgoing Chair of COP23, Frank Bainimarama, was even more blunt: He told delegates they risked going down in history as “the generation that blew it – that sacrificed the health of our world and ultimately betrayed humanity because we didn’t have the courage and foresight to go beyond our short-term individual concerns: craven, irresponsible and selfish”.
Guterres, in a pointed criticism aimed at the four countries that have been refusing to “welcome” the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s special report on 1.5-degree warming, said rejecting climate science was indefensible. He added: “The IPCC special report is a stark acknowledgment of what the consequences of global warming beyond 1.5 degrees will mean for billions of people around the world, especially those who call small island states home. This is not good news, but we cannot afford to ignore it.”
As the New Year approaches I look back on the events of 2018 and think how 2019 will unfold. We are – without doubt – in worrying times. For me the highlight of 2018 was the birth of my first grandson – an immensely moving and proud moment which gives me hope for the future. I’m going to spend as much time with him as I can in 2019 but, as I do, I want to keep reminding myself what Tanya Steele, CEO at WWF, said so well:
“We are the first generation to know we are destroying our planet and the last one that can do anything about it”.
So – I’m going to step into 2019 with a new resolve to raise my game in the battle against climate change. I really really hope that my grandson will never be able to say that his grandparents’ generation was the one that blew it for future generations. That would be the worst legacy any grandparent could leave!
Getting to the Gooooal: Setting a Science Based Target
Johanna Goetzel, Carbon Credentials (Reproduced with permisison)
CBRE and Carbon Credentials co-hosted a workshop for members of the Legal Sustainability Alliance at Emirates Stadium for members who were eager to learn more about setting science-based targets (SBT).
New to the process? Take a look at our blog from July, which contains an easy to follow infographic, or read on for how winning a football match and setting a science based target are not that different.
Some of the identified challenges include:
Data: where is it, how much do you need and how to deal with poor quality data?
Scope 3 emissions: What does this entail and how to engage with suppliers?
Senior leadership support: How to get buy-in from leadership and from those that will have to deliver the target?
Lack of internal resource and skills to set and achieve the target
Organisational complexity, particularly for global firms
Size of the challenge: where do I begin?
Some solutions that the workshop participants brainstormed are strong football lessons too.
You’ve heard “there is no I in team” where cooperation is championed. However, a good team requires strong leadership and the same is true for successfully moving the ball forward when a company agrees to set an SBT.
One challenge to overcome is convincing senior leadership to set a target in the first place.
A player wouldn’t dare walking onto the pitch without his kit on, and when you approach senior leadership it’s best to arm yourself with fact and figures that articulate the benefits of setting a target. Understand what you need to do and have a plan; be prepared to take ownership; and come in clued up about what it will take.
Remember, a season is composed of over 30 matches, so you can improve over time. The Legal Sustainability Alliance’s annual report is a great benchmark to see how you measure against peer organization.
Bringing a case study of a company that’s already achieved your goal can help show your CEOs and leadership that is not only possible, and that there is reputational benefit in setting the target.
Appeal to the desires for CEOs and execs to leave a legacy
Who wouldn’t want to be remembered as the Pelé of your company? Nearly 80% of corporate executives surveyed by CDP found a strengthened brand reputation to be one of the strongest benefits for their company for committing to a SBT. Business as usual is shifting as more than 141 global companies have approved SBTs. Don’t you want to be part of the leadership?
Another challenge that was discussed during the workshop was “where to start?” This reminds me of the nervous energy a player feels before the first match. Even if you have run drills hundreds of times, it can feel overwhelming once on the pitch. What do you do?
Look to a teammate for help
In target setting finding the data and building a plan necessitates asking others for support. The data you need may exist in other departments, and together you can map out how best to obtain and use this information.
It may also be smart to get some tips from experts, either Arsene Wenger or a consultancy, to help. Moving the ball forward may feel tedious when you are alone, but with others, the give and go can help you reach the goal sooner.
Finally, believe you can do it. Going in confidently to the match and the conversation about how to set targets will allow you to be results oriented. Think about what matters most to the business and then position your arguments with those goals in mind.
Remember, you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take—think about what you will risk by not taking acting to set an SBT.
Air quality and business – a call to arms….
Keith Cotton, CrispAir
CrispAir has been working with the City of London and other authorities for the last 9 years on the issue of poor air quality. The founder, Keith Cotton, has worked on many initiatives that enhance the environment, health and community with a specific understanding of business needs. Now it’s time to look at the reality of the situation of poor air quality on the ground, disaggregate global and local operational impact alongside embracing the wider Global Sustainable Development Goals that need to be tackled…..
The ‘Red October’ sky covering much of the UK a year ago, and the dust we often notice on vehicles in the summer, are trans-boundary events with particulates in the stratosphere creating an apocalyptic aura but with very little impact to us at ground level. The profile of air quality, as an issue, has been raised over recent years in the press but don’t believe everything you read!
Instant answers, spurious half-science and ‘eye-catching’ headlines still prevail – so below is an attempt to rationalise the situation for businesses. Poor air quality, in a local urban context, is largely invisible. It is formulated of tiny Particulate Matter (PM) and gaseous Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) – the evidence of their impact to human health is beyond question – click here.
The producers of this pollution (a result of combustion) are from vehicle traffic (predominantly diesel) and gas combustion through heating systems. There are other local impactors, namely construction sites and the inappropriate adoption of the STOR programme but mostly, if you have an office in an urban environment your air quality footprint will come down to:
• Transportation – how your staff get around – if you need a taxi contract make sure it’s electric or hybrid
• Built Environment – reducing gas consumption – gather information on life-cycles of the plant as a ultra-low NOx retrofit ‘lean-burner’ could pay-back in two years
• Supply Chain – reduce the number of vehicles visiting your site and encourage suppliers to deliver with low emission vehicles
The new Ultra Low Emission Zone, to be launched in April 2019 by the Mayor of London, and other local government actions will help but there is a need for clarification from national government and this is currently unstructured.
As when I started this work it needs your help – to raise the profile of the issue and get policy makers to stand-up to their responsibilities – we all have a part to play.
The importance of the issue and what we can all do…
This link shows a pollution map for the City of Westminster – Annual Mean NO2 concentrations (2013): The safe level for human health is 40 ugm-3 – so the parks are OK away from the main road! (Source: London Atmospheric Emissions Inventory 2013, GLA and TfL)
Yes – it really this serious…
Particulates have long-term impacts to cardiovascular functions and neurological disorders. A more immediate impact, operationally, is from the irritant NO2 – this aggravates the airway and exacerbates allergen conditions such as hay fever.
So – If you have operations in central urban environments it is likely your staff and that community will be impacted. Find out more by contacting:
Keith Cotton, Managing Director
CrispAir (a trading division of Crisp Solutions Ltd)
Email: [email protected]
Mobile: +44 (0) 7973 814275
Convincing the Business: Making the Case for Carbon Neutrality
Rosie Helson – Natural Capital Partners.[This guest blog is reproduced in full with permission from Natural Capital Partners. Read the article on their website here]
For some companies, the benefits of achieving net zero emissions are quickly understood, while other internal leaders may require a little more convincing. In this guest blog Natural Capital Partners illustrate the benefits via the experiences of three of their clients who share their journey to carbon neutrality and describe how they made sure it delivered value for the business.
While the calls for carbon neutrality from experts such as former United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres have been widely reported, corporates still require a compelling business reason to make the case for leadership on climate action.
For the world’s largest law firm, Dentons, the most significant reason to become a certified CarbonNeutral® company in the UK and Middle East was to be regarded as an innovative climate leader. Dentons is a member of the Legal Sustainability Alliance, and while other members had set carbon neutral targets, Dentons wanted to do something a bit different. By selecting carbon finance projects that go beyond emissions reductions to support local communities and biodiversity in Uganda, the programme was aligned with one of the emerging markets the firm operates in.
A benchmarking exercise which showed what some of Dentons’ major clients and competitors were doing was key: “I actually showed him Natural Capital Partners’ client example whereby Microsoft purchased carbon from impactful projects in Africa, India and elsewhere,” said Dentons’ Deputy Head of Facilities, Mike Forshaw, helping him convince the UK and Middle East CEO of the value of carbon neutrality in differentiating from other legal firms.
Dentons was already measuring and reducing emissions, but the carbon neutral goal brought these actions together into a coherent, clear strategy. Mike engaged Dentons’ Global Environmental Committee by setting out a three to five year plan to demonstrate the long-term commitment to the programme. The restored water infrastructure project in Uganda is one that delivers benefits in several areas beyond reducing emissions and meeting the carbon neutral goal: by providing communities with access to clean water, the project impacts multiple Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) including good health and well-being and gender equality.
“We wanted to go beyond the tick-box exercise by taking numerous environmental actions internally and ensuring our offsets have a positive impact in the communities they’re purchased from. It’s the right thing to do, it’s cost-effective, and that’s why we’ve committed to a three-year carbon neutral programme and expect that to continue,” Mike said.
The programme is now expanding to global units with senior support.
For CHEP, a business which has an inherently low-emission business model that rents pallets and reusable plastic containers to consumer goods and retail companies around the world, its product-as-a-service model, combined with its internal sustainability programme and customer collaboration, significantly reduces the carbon emissions of the business. So, it was a small step for the company to enable its customers to further decarbonise their supply chains with a CarbonNeutral pallet offering.
How a company manages the environmental and climate impacts of its energy use – principally carbon emissions – is an increasingly important differentiator for businesses such as CHEP, whose customers were demanding their suppliers take climate action seriously in order to meet their own sustainability commitments. A CarbonNeutral® product offering is one of the many actions CHEP is taking to demonstrate that.
Iñigo Canalejo Lasarte, Sustainability Director, Europe, Africa, India and the Middle East, commented: “Providing a carbon neutral product to our customers makes CHEP standout in the market; it allows our customers to go beyond the environmental benefits of our share-and-reuse business model, further reducing their environmental footprint and helping to make the world´s supply chains more sustainable.”
The programme has obviously resonated throughout the business: starting in 2012, it has expanded from three to 24 countries. It reached the U.S. after that team saw how successful the CarbonNeutral half-pallets had been in Europe: “U.S. industry recognizes the value of this pioneering platform; CHEP’s CarbonNeutral half-pallet won Industrial Pack’s Environmental Initiative of the Year Award 2018. It’s helping our customers reach both sustainability and business goals,” said Suzanne Lindsay-Walker, CHEP’s Director of Sustainability, North America.
For the programme to be successful, it was essential to ensure Account Directors and Sales teams were on-board. The engagement programme included details of the carbon finance projects CHEP purchases from, which are selected to resonate with customers’ interests: the Acre Amazonian Rainforest Conservation project which impacts 15 of the 17 SDGs, and the Mississippi Valley Reforestation project, which resonates with CHEP’s U.S. customers.
“Not many companies in our industry are providing carbon neutral products,” says Iñigo. It’s a key competitive differentiator but credibility is essential. Iñigo points out that carbon neutrality should not “be the starting point, but rather the natural continuation of a well thought-through sustainability strategy and carefully developed action plan.” Following a framework like the CarbonNeutral Protocol will ensure that the emissions of the business have been reduced to net zero in way that is consistent with best practice.
For water and coffee services company Eden Springs, a survey to investors, customers and employees provided evidence that the business’ key stakeholders were demanding climate action. This led the company to expand its CarbonNeutral® company programme, which already covered the UK, Nordics and Swiss markets, to include product usage for one year, the products themselves, the company, and electricity across Europe.
On a personal level, Eden Springs’ President, Antonio Alarcon, wants the company to be a leader in climate action, and not just in its industry sector. “We are committed to carbon neutrality because we are firmly convinced that it is the right thing to do. It is going to be good for us, good for our employees and it is also going to be good for our clients,” stated Antonio. That’s why carbon neutral has become a core pillar of the Eden Springs brand, further differentiating the company.
Antonio convinced Eden’s regional Managing Directors across Europe that carbon neutrality represents a clear cross-cultural message that brings the markets together with one shared vision. They grew the programme by starting in the Eden Springs’ European markets that had more customers demonstrating commitments to environmental action, namely the UK, Nordics and Switzerland. It has become clear that carbon neutrality generates value for Eden Springs’ customers, in turn creating enterprise value. These first-mover markets set the bar for carbon neutrality and demonstrated the programme’s success. As the trend for climate action grew among customers across Europe, Eden expanded its carbon neutral commitment.
While reducing emissions delivers many shared benefits, reducing them to net zero represents a next-level goal and clear leadership statement, enhancing the brand of the business. The next steps for Eden Springs are to communicate the newly expanded programme to clients, detailing the environmental benefits of carbon neutrality, making them feel proud, and hopefully inspiring them to create similar initiatives in their own companies.
With increasing customer demand to decarbonise the supply base, and a need to differentiate from competitors, demonstrating climate leadership through carbon neutrality is proving a highly successful strategy for companies throughout the world. Starting in selected business locations or product areas, and building on that success to expand the programme, can showcase the enterprise value a net zero emissions programme will deliver.
Oceans, microplastic and a whole new way of thinking
By LSA Guest Blogger Beatrice Carpenter
The LSA Summer Event 2018 was not only topical it was inspirational, generously hosted by Taylor Wessing at their New Square office with its beautiful green roof terrace which provided a delightful and fitting venue for the conversational hot topic – plastic in the oceans. Gazing out over the roof tops of the city of London on a balmy summer evening one could be forgiven for thinking ocean pollution is a distant problem. The LSA guest speaker brought it right into the room for us all.
Emily Penn, a self-described,“skipper, ocean advocate and artist” and dedicated environmentalist, has been involved on a personal mission to clean our oceans and rid them of plastic waste for around 10 years. She became an oceanographer by accident, having hitched a ride on ‘Earthrace’ the world breaking bio fueled boat on the way to Australia and after that she was hooked.
Emily shared her experience of that first voyage, of her first clean up project on the islands of Tonga and of founding her now award winning team of all female crew on board eXXpedition. eXXpedition carry out research and testing to uncover the unseen damage single use plastic and the lack of its sustainable disposal is having on the world around us, particularly focused on the health impacts its degradation may have on women.
Emily’s speech shed a light on micro-plastics, the tiny fragments that float along the surface of the ocean, thousands of miles from any shore and shared her shocking revelation that when she had her own blood tested for toxins she discovered it contained 29 from a list of 35 banned substances. While no one can prove where they came from exposure to chemical treatments or toxins released from plastic as it breaks down may well be the cause.
Emily’s energy and passion captivated the room as she shared plans for her next adventure – the voyage to the North Pacific with her team due to start in a couple of weeks. You can follow her progress here and listen to her sharing her stories with Planet Pod on their podcast special.
It is easy to feel that our efforts are somewhat small when we see the grand scale of the damage, but a poignant message from the evening was that they are not. Micro-actions, just like the tiny fragments of floating plastic in our waters, can create significant changes. For a lot of firms only recently embarking on their journey to be more sustainable the focus should be on the small steps. Speaking of steps, Emily, a Parley for Oceans ambassador, shared the success of Adidas Parley trainer made entirely from recylced yarns and plastic recovered from the sea as an example of what corporate commitment can do to make change happen.
Emily’s journey to sea began when she discovered the notion of “Slow travel” across our planet. For her it involved taking a Camel as part of her route to China but this philosophy can also be applied to the movement towards a more sustainable lifestyle. It is when we pause and think of the consequences of our actions, that they are changed.
However, slow thought doesn’t mean slow progress. Although it begins with the little things, it requires making large-scale changes if we wish to give our earth time to heal from the damage we have put it through.
As Emily herself so neatly put it; “Sometimes when you’re on the ocean, the wind doesn’t always blow your way”. This serves somewhat as a metaphor for the uphill battle in dealing with our ocean pollution. It is clear to enable our waters to recover it will involve a process of reversing our mentality to plastic and encouraging people to take action.
The Role of Digital in Sustainability
The benefits of organisations being environmentally-minded and pro-social are increasingly well understood and publicised: job satisfaction improves, retention rate increases, consumers favour ethical brands, company value increases – and the accumulated social and environmental impact of organisations working together to do good has an immeasurably large impact on society.
At Reason Digital, with these many benefits in mind, we have made it our mission to build websites, apps and other digital services for charities and pro-social organisations including lawfirms. Given the near-total penetration of internet usage in the UK population and the centrality
of digital services to businesses, the need for flexible, integrated, online tools to help organisations maximise their impact has never been greater.
One area that many companies struggle with in relation to their environmental impact is minimising the waste that they produce: whilst approximately 70% of office waste is recyclable,only 7.5% reaches a recycling facility. As a response to this, we created an app – Gone for Good – aimed at helping people to recycle and repurpose their furniture and clutter. By downloading theapp and taking a photo of the items in question, companies are able to donate their unwanted items to any of the available charities – it gets picked up by the charity, and doesn’t cost the user a penny! Since its launch in 2015, Gone for Good has facilitated the collection of nearly £1 million of goods for charity shops to benefit from.
In a similar vein, we found that many organisations were struggling with measuring and reporting their triple bottom line. Impact aims to address this by providing a single, centralised, online tool for logging social and environmental data. It takes information from your staff, capturing evidence along the way, transforms it from activity logs into actual social impact information, and shows your real-time progress towards your social impact goals.
Think Big – Be Bold!
“Think Big and Be Bold!” says Plan A Guru Mike Barry! At a recent LSA lunchtime discussion hosted by LSA executive firm Allen & Overy, Christina Blacklaws (VP & incoming President, The Law Society) joined Mike Barry, Head of Sustainable Business (Plan A) at Marks & Spencer, to discuss how and where the legal profession and retail can work together on sustainability.
Mike, who is the M&S Board Director responsible for the ‘Plan A’ campaign, encouraged the audience, of senior lawyers and CSR professionals, to think big. While he supports and applauds the LSA members in their annual carbon measurement and their efforts to bring down carbon emissions, he issued us with a challenge: “There is more that law firms can do to contribute to the wider sustainability issues that the whole of society faces”.
Mike made the point that “Paper and travel are important secondary impacts of the legal profession, both of which need to be addressed, BUT the true value to society of the profession is its huge knowledge to help us make the right decisions about issues like technology, privacy, land use an development, wellbeing and – of course – diversity.”
The M&S commitment to Plan A means that every single item sold in M&S stores worldwide has to have a ‘Plan A’ story to tell by 2020 – that means sustainability is being built into the supply chain at every stage and is to be regarded as “business as normal”, a baseline measure not an exception: no mean feat when M&S has 3 billion single items on sale each year to 32 million customers.
Sustainability is also at the heart of the incoming President’s agenda for the Law Society, underpinning and linking her other joint priorities of the Innovation, technology and diversity. The LSA offers a vital free resource to Law Society members, helping them respond to her call for them “to take a proactive approach to environmental sustainability”. The opportunities that technology provides to reduce our collective environmental impact are clear – for example, based on analysis done by Google, a typical firm or organisation that migrates to cloud-based CRM, email and related systems could reduce its energy use (and therefore carbon footprint) by 68-87%.
All law firms, whatever their size, are invited to join the LSA and make use of the wealth of free resources on offer – including a free annual carbon footprinting tool that helps firms measure manage and reduce carbon emissions. Since its inception in 2007 LSA member firms have been responsible for a 15% reduction in average total emissions per capita an approximate saving of £140 per employee. As the Vice President said “sustainable business is good business and makes sense”.
The LSA has over 140 active law firm members. It is free to join and open to all UK law firms, in house council, law schools and other legal teams. Take our survey on what sustainability matters and means to the profession here
How Green Is Your Finance?
Interest has been growing in how to structure financial systems to support sustainability. The term “green finance” is used to refer to financial instruments, services or activity which result in positive change for the environment and society over the long term.
The drive to green finance is being driven by investor demand; ambitious societal objectives (such as the Paris agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals); the rise of new financial instruments (such as green bonds); and improved understanding of risk through enhanced analytics and reporting.
Green finance is starting to move from a niche product to a mainstream activity, with financial centres around the world vying with each other to attract green money.
So far, so good. But how are the various financial centres doing?
The Global Green Finance Index (GGFI) is an exciting initiative from Long Finance in association with Finance Watch and the Mava Foundation. With the Global Green Finance Index we hope to shine a light on green finance activity by ranking the world’s financial centres on the quality and depth of their green finance offerings.
The index will be constructed using a number of existing indices in combination with a survey of senior industry figures from around the world. Full details of the methodology can be found here.
The intention behind the GGFI is to:
- Define green financing and green finance criteria;
- Enable financial centres to enhance the range and depth of their offerings;
- Showcase and share best practice in green financing; and
- Create a “race to the top” which will catalyse the growth of green finance, improve policy makers’ and other stakeholders’ understanding of what makes, a financial centre ‘green’ and shape the financial system to support, sustainability goals.
You can participate in the survey here. We would love to have as wide a range of views as is possible to improve the richness of the data available.
We aim to publish the initial Global Green Finance Index in Spring 2018 with further editions following at six month intervals to build a picture of how financial centres are responding to the challenge of making a difference to the sustainability of our economies.
Prof Micael Mainelli – Z/Yen Group Ltd
New Year Resolution?
Happy New Year to all our readers! This opening blog for 2018 may not be full of traditional good cheer, but it is an important and timely reminder that action is needed by us all NOW if we are to get the world we all want for future generations. These short extracts from the second “warning” to humanity issued in Nov 2017 (and supported by 15364 scientists from 184 countries across the world) might perhaps help to shape our New Year Resolutions for 2018:
“As most political leaders respond to pressure, scientists, media influencers, and lay citizens must insist that their governments take immediate action as a moral imperative to current and future generations of human and other life. With a groundswell of organized grassroots efforts, dogged opposition can be overcome and political leaders compelled to do the right thing. It is also time to re-examine and change our individual behaviours…..
Sustainability transitions come about in diverse ways, and all require civil-society pressure and evidence-based advocacy, political leadership, and a solid understanding of policy instruments…..
To prevent widespread misery and catastrophic biodiversity loss, humanity must practice a more environmentally sustainable alternative to business as usual. This prescription was well articulated by the world’s leading scientists 25 years ago, but in most respects, we have not heeded their warning. Soon it will be too late to shift course away from our failing trajectory, and time is running out. We must recognize, in our day-to-day lives and in our governing institutions, that Earth with all its life is our only home.”
Read the full text of the “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice” here
We are stronger together – people and trees
The Tree Charter goes live!
On a chilly November evening 800 years to the day the Charter of the Forest was reborn as the Woodland Trust unveiled its new Charter for Trees Woods and People. Over 18 months in the making, based on work across hundreds of organisations and communities the ten point charter is a thing of beauty and inspiration. Written in oak gall ink (derived from “oak apples” or oak galls – the same ink that was used write the Magna Carta and original 1217 Charter of the Forest) it inspires both support and action.
The Charter encourages communities, individuals, businesses, landowners, planners and government to sustain landscapes for wildlife, to plant for the future to celebrate and protect trees and woods and plan greener spaces for all.
As we gathered in the dark, lead by lantern bearing children to watch the unveiling of the Charter Pole in Lincoln Castle grounds it was inspiring to see the new handwritten Charter nestling against pages from the original 1217 Charter of the Forest. While this may seem a poetic flight of fancy, the Charter has real significance for law firms and the LSA has scoped out a practical response to the ten calls within it. Our ten practical actions range from reducing paper consumption, ensuring sustainable supply chains, advocating for stronger protection of trees through to ensuring social justice around access to trees.