Climate Change and Cold Temperatures: Are they really mutually exclusive?

A clear insight on what low temperatures indicate about global warming..

Very year we see the same story repeating: Brutal cold weather and wind chills blanket the country attracting like that a lot of media attention. Unsurprisingly, this prompts many climate change skeptics to argue that global warming is not actually happening. And the examples of them are many.

Early last week, Donald Trump used Twitter to write that, simply, global warming is not happening and ask for “This very expensive GLOBAL WARMING b*llshit” to stop. He was not alone: he was joined by Congressman John Fleming, a Louisiana Republican, who sarcastically argued that “’Global warming” isn’t so warm these days.’” Similarly, Rush Limbaugh, a conservative American radio talk show host and political commentator, accused the mass media of making up the “polar vortex” to push a leftist agenda.

So what on earth is happening? Is the whole man-made climate change story just a folk tale?

Regardless of the brutal cold weather that left parts of Canada even colder than Mars, scientists argue that climate change is in fact occurring. More specifically, Gavin Schmidt, a climate scientist with NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City, told National Geographic that people are missing the bigger picture and advised people not to get distracted by this “short-lived cooling effect.” Meanwhile, Meteorologist Cliff Mass of the University of Washington agrees, predicting on his blog that “global warming will occur over the coming century,” arguing that the real warming is in the future.

Looking at a bigger picture, while America is freezing under the cold weather in other parts of the countries like Australia and Brazil the temperatures were really high. Even though some may argue that these odd weather events do not firmly prove or disprove global warming, humans are nonetheless responsible for taking all steps necessary to ensure that climate change is avoided at all costs. And there are specific tools and actions that they can take to do so.

If you are interested in learning more about local and global climate change trends and legislations and also become certified as a CSR Practitioner, we encourage you to join the likes of Fortune 500 and attend one of our upcoming Certified Sustainability (CSR) Practitioner Trainings:

United States:

Houston- February 6-7, 2014

Toronto- April 24-25, 2014

New York- June 2-3, 2014

Middle East and Asia:

Tokyo: February 21-22, 2014 and June 13-14, 2014

Dubai: March 10-11, 2014

Europe:

Athens, GR: April 2-3, 2014

London, UK: May 12-13, 2014 and October 23-24, 2014

Tell CSE what you think:

What Do These Record Low Temperatures Tell You about Global Warming? Is it really happening?

Making the most of a changing world: Sustainability (CSR) trends in 2013

2012 introduced several significant developments in sustainability, most notably around the issues of climate change, risk management, and supply chain ethics.

June’s Rio+20 United Nations Conference for Sustainable Development dominated the year’s discussion, reinforcing the need for corporations to play a larger role in attaining sustainable development goals. PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Low Carbon Economy Index publication supports this sentiment, showing only minor improvements in global carbon intensity reduction. As climate change regulation escalates in response to these numbers, we can expect to see more investors and consumers paying attention to corporate sustainable development strategies.

Companies anticipate these changes. More than two-thirds of Fortune 500 companies now issue sustainability reports, with many also investing in sophisticated methods of tracking and reporting emission data. The Carbon Disclosure Project reports that in 2012 alone top firms integrating climate change into their business strategies reduced their emissions by nearly 14%. In 2013 we can expect to see even stronger corporate leadership in sustainable development as more corporations begin to report their carbon and water footprints, use methods of assurance to confirm data, and develop long-term carbon management strategies throughout the supply chain.

Social and environmental risk management will also be at the forefront of 2013. 2012 was filled with corporate behavior scandals. Companies like Barclays and Walmart found themselves in the spotlight amid global concern over lack of corporate and supply chain ethics. Superstorm Sandy and other natural disasters raised further questions about the ability of companies to adapt and become resilient to social and environmental challenges. Greater investment in supply chain management, stakeholder engagement and financial-environmental reporting will develop as business leaders seek to address these reputation and environmental risks. Expect one popular management strategy – “social license to operate” to lead the year’s discourse.

As sustainability become more mainstream, one trend also continues to hold promise: companies will continue to expand their investments in sustainability, and intensify their focus on pressing issues like energy efficiency, natural resource management, and health & safety. A study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology shows that greater numbers of companies view corporate environmental and social responsibility as a profit boost. 2013 will see increased corporate spending on sustainability issues like clean technology, sustainability reporting assurance, and corporate sustainability programs. In 2012 this was already made evident with evermore additions of chief sustainability officers to corporate boards; Unilever was one among many to expand its sustainability teams. 2013 will continue this trend with individuals being recruited internally from supply chain management, communications, marketing, and other units, to develop sustainability initiatives.

Sustainability (CSR) directives will become more coordinated across departments, causing a big shift in corporate structure and thinking. Corporate heads will look to leaders that can demonstrate the drive and flexibility needed to collaborate across business units and influence decision makers. Sustainability and CSR officers will adopt different roles in marketing, communications, management or project coordination. A recent article by Ethical Corporation argues that renewed emphasis on strategic planning will bring about more pragmatic programs and effective communication of the value of sustainability throughout company sectors. In short, these efforts 2013 will invoke a much broader understanding of sustainability, with greater opportunities for collaboration internally.

Externally, we will also begin to see a shift in thinking, as corporate marketers, communication managers, and sustainability directors direct their attention to consumer behavior. Stricter carbon regulations will encourage companies to identify more effective methods of consumer engagement Additionally companies they will also understand that Sustainability Reporting in not enough and that they need  further stakeholder engagement with their employees, community and investors for increase stakeholder value

Rethinking Resource Management: Your Competitive Advantage!

In today’s rapidly growing world 62 billion tones of resources (e.g. minerals, wood, metals, fossil and biomass fuels) are extracted annually from the environment to fulfill societies inexhaustible consumption demands!!

What is more important, flabbergasting actually is that 1/5 of these resources extracted for use end up being wasted away according to new research revealed by edie’s newsroom! In fact, OECD report Sustainable materials management  state food having a larger environmental footprint than the packaging wrapped around it. Why? Well simply think about the life cycle assessment of a cardboard carton and milk! You will quickly come to realize that milk has many more components that need to be taken into consideration in relation to its carbon footprint, and that is without stopping at the “cow point”!This in turn suggests that wasting milk is worse for the environment than buying smaller cardboard cartons.

The response by businesses to this of course has been to apply different life cycle assessments on products, yet it appears that when a product is produced in such an environmentally friendly manner, emphases is placed more so on the package that it will be delivered in to consumers, than the actual product its self! Not to say that this applies to all products, as nowadays life cycle assessment is also applied to the actual resources of products to reveal and minimize the water and carbon which they are married with. Such transparency in today’s products has been a result of the evolution of consumers becoming environmentally conscious and ethical consumers in addition to businesses recognizing that climate change is a massive risk which they cannot afford to ignore!

For instance, CSE (Center for Sustainability & Excellence) CSE calculated the Water Footprint of Gaea’s Olive Oil products the first of its kind worldwide. Calculations were conducted for olive oil that is produced in the regions of Lasithi, Crete and Messinia, Peloponnese, with the support of CSE and Christos Zoumides, Water Footprint expert and Research Fellow at the Department of Environmental Management at the University of Technology in Cyprus. The reason behind this initiative was the realization that The Water Footprint of a product is the volume of freshwater used to produce the product, measured over the full supply chain. Hence, water is a critical resource and essential for business performance in the long term!!!

For further recommendations on how to grow economically without contributing to environmental degradation, visit CSE sustainability solutions!

London Zero Waste Olympics

The 2012 London Olympics received a great visibility boost when they announced back in 2009 that they would be zero waste. But what does zero waste mean? Simply, all the waste would be used anew as a resource, either as a fuel or as raw material for new products. Although easy to conceive, it has proven to be trickier a task than imagined. According to a new report by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and BioRegional, the waste and carbon generated was more than expected.

The Olympic Delivery Authority’s goals included “recycling and reusing 90% of waste, delivering more than half the materials needed by sustainable transport, using natural remediation methods to clean soil, barges to take away segregated waste through newly dredged waterways and using only legal and sustainable timber sourced through a supplier panel”, as Sir John Armitt, ODA chair states. Some targets were exceeded forming success stories, while others were not met. Some claim that a great effort was made, others that the case was no gold metal. But what do the facts say?

  • 80% of all contaminated soils were cleaned on-site and reused, saving £68 million
  • 98.5% of demolition material was either reused or recycled, diverting at least 412.000 tons of waste from landfill
  • 100% of the timber used on-site was certified as legal and sustainable
  • 530m3 of rainwater harvested from the velodrome roof will be used each year to flush toilets and irrigation
  • 2.000 tons of waste were removed from the Olympic park by barge
  • 3.200 tons of carbon will be saved each year by using a 3.3 MW gas-fired combined cooling, heating and power engine and a 3MW biomass boiler to generate heat and power
  • 60.000 of silt, gravel and rubble, as well as tyres, shopping trolleys, timber and an entire car were removed from the waterways on the site.
  • 178 bird habitats and 66 bat habitats have been created on the park’s bridges with 635 nest and bat boxes installed throughout the site.
  • 170.000 tons of recycled and secondary aggregate were used in concrete mixes, saving 30.000 tons of embodied carbon and eliminating more than 70.000 lorry movements

Gold metal or not, certainly the London Olympics attempted something that has no Games has attempted before. One can only hope that this pioneering initiative will be followed to the Olympics to come, and who knows. Maybe on the Rio 2016 Olympics we will be discussing about a low-carbon Olympic torch after all.

Risk, Climate Change and Sustainability

Traditional risk management has extended to encompass the risks arising from climate change. What about the potential effect on production and business operations, regulatory and litigation risks and reputation risks?

Across the world, companies are addressing climate change utilizing a cross between traditional risk management and corporate sustainability efforts.

Climate change worries corporate decision makers, investors and insurers. How will the continually changing climate affect your company? Will there be a disruption to your business? Will you be impacted financially?

Investors are paying more attention to these issues more than ever. In a Ceres report, CEO of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, Anne Stausboll wrote:

In light of our long-term liabilities, we need to understand the critical risks and opportunities faced by the companies in our portfolio.

Today, that includes the serious risks — financial, physical, and reputational — associated with issues such as climate change, natural resource scarcity, supply chain pressures and other global sustainability challenges. Any company that ignores these risks, and fails to develop a long-term strategy to address them, is diminishing its competitiveness in the 21st century. At the same time, there are enormous opportunities for businesses that fully embrace sustainability.

Ceres has outlined 20 key expectations that investors have in today’s business world that include the areas of governance, stakeholder engagement, disclosure and performance.These are meant to be utilized at guidelines.

Once your company has taken to its investors, a report by Marsh recommends that companies assess their exposure tat the board level as well, “so that directors can be aware of where climate change-related risks will appear on the list of the company’s biggest risks.”

There is still a long way to go in developing processes for managing climate risk. What approaches are your companies taking?