Wednesday, 26 May 2010


Old article that is still valid... Especially in relation to the work with Climate Positive and companies as solution providers.



Opening a window of opportunity

By: Dennis Pamlin

Western companies and governments are pushing the world toward a war over natural resources. At the same time rapid development in countries like China and India provides a ­historically unique opportunity to move the world toward real sustainability.

The world is in a situation where conflict over natural resources, especially oil, minerals and water, is moving up on the international security agenda. Measures to reduce poverty and create greater global equality have become challenges for the industrial societies. It is impossible for the whole world to live like the populations of the US, EU and Japan due to limited resources, and since no developed country has a strategy to increase resource efficiency to provide the same level of welfare to countries like India and China, this creates a precarious situation.

While great progress has been made in some areas, and technology and economic resources are available to solve many of the great challenges, there is very little happening.

Although complex, three main causes can be identified:

A Western perspective dominates.

Companies talk about sustainability, but few act.

There is a focus on simplistic problems, not opportunities.

While not difficult to solve, it requires that new players get involved and that the old generation of reactive environmentalists leave room for those who want to deliver real sustainability.

A major challenge is that there is unwillingness among westerners to realize that their societies are fundamentally unsustainable. It is not enough to reduce pollution and emissions when the total resource usage is far too high and the solution involves sending the emissions abroad.

Another concern is that ­environmental organizations, which are seen as the “environmental voice”, have become reactive and marginalized. They arrange their own conferences, reports and seminars, and tend to represent environmental issues in a very narrow sense. Instead of challenging and working with the groups that really influence economic development, they work with each other, convincing themselves that protected areas, wastewater treatment and recycling is what the world needs.

Many “environmentalists” are ignoring the great inequity that exists, and the economic and technological challenges that lie ahead. A serious initiative should provide welfare to those who are poor, while reducing the ecological footprint of the rich.

Most western governments have designated their environmental work as reactive, with a focus on those companies creating problems. While this is important to ensure laggards don’t fall behind, it is the proactive work of supported leaders that is needed most.

Defining end-of-pipe technologies as “environmental” is really counterproductive for three reasons. First, it doesn’t help the environment in the long term. Second, it excludes those who have real solutions, such as information and communication technology companies. Third, it communicates the wrong message regarding challenges.

It has been the view of some working in academia that the only role of companies has been to make money. However, most working people realize and acknowledge that companies have some kind of responsibility. The question is what kind of responsibility they have.

For a long time the American method of philanthropy dominated, with surplus given to “good causes.” During the 1970s and 1980s it became clear that many companies were contributing to the destruction of nature and exploiting poor people, rather than helping them. The second generation of CSR was born. This became the breeding ground for PR departments and environmental consultants who tried to engage the companies in damage control, risk management and branding. Some companies started to ask fundamental questions about their existence. Could their business model help solve the challenges humanity faces and allow people to move out of poverty? Thus the third generation of CSR was born.

The result is that some companies today are not only moving beyond current legislation, they are making changes that will allow them to keep making profits, but reduce their resource consumption while helping the poor.

Many global companies have a very reactive ­approach. They want to portray themselves as progressive companies, but very seldom does this translate into concrete plans. Often these companies have well-developed communication departments, but very little discussion about how to meet the future needs of societies. Interestingly enough we see signs that many companies in ­emerging economies look like third generation companies, while most “CSR-events” organized by western companies or governments are generation one or two. It is time to listen more to the companies from emerging economies, and separate the companies in the west that belong to the three different generations.

Not only have western companies approached sustainability issues in a reactive manner for a long time, they have also acted as if the western world was the center of the universe. With the emergence of new economic centers, such as those in India and China, this illusion is even harder to uphold.

The relationship between consumption, production and use of natural resources is becoming more complex. Hopefully this, together with limited natural resources will result in companies and governments abandoning the linear approach. Instead of running the economy with no regard to natural resource depletion, long-term sustainability, or equitable use of the planet’s resources, we need a global circular economy.

Progressive companies and governments could set up meetings between representatives from all parts of the global economy – those providing the natural

resources, those producing the goods and services, as well as those consuming them. The companies marketing and developing new products and services should be confronted with the con­sequences of their choices.

In order to encourage a sustainable business development, innovator zones for a circular economy should be introduced. These innovator zones could be used to explore ways that allow the rich population to enhance their welfare, but reduce their total use of natural resources, and at the same time allow the poor to boost their well-being, while only marginally increasing their use of natural resources. It is important that these innovator zones are not only set up by the companies that currently are experiencing problems, but also by those who can provide solutions, such as architects, city planners and ICT companies. Sectors that have been contributing indirectly to destructive development, such as the financial sector and PR/marketing/branding firms, need to provide new solutions in addition to reducing their destructive ­behavior.

Before the end of 2007, all major environmental institutions need to move away from the single-minded focus on end-of-pipe technologies. A strategy for supporting real sustainability solutions rather than incremental improvement of inherently unsustainable systems should be developed. All major economic player – major companies, export agencies, members of industry, and organizations promoting innovation – should explore how they can support real sustainable solutions. Leading companies in major western countries should set concrete targets and develop business models for a global circular economy. Leading CEO’s should act together on a global level with those responsible for major investments. Companies and countries should disclose how much they invest in reactive environmental protection compared to proactive solutions. Triangular dialogues are necessary between key players in various geographical areas such as Africa, China and the EU.

Artikeln även publicerad i Sustainability Sweden, 2006

Thursday, 13 May 2010

The report: "Low Carbon Telecommunications Solutions in China: Current Reductions and Future Potential"

Today the report ” Low Carbon Telecommunications Solutions in China: Current Reductions and Future Potential” was launched in China.

The process from idea to report has been very interesting and rewarding. It is in many ways one of the most interesting reports I've been part of writing. I want to thank everyone that was involved and look forward to further collaboration. I think this report is a landmark study in many ways:

1. For the first time (to my knowledge) a company has made a full assessment of its positive contributions to society through the services it’s providing (in this case everything from smart logistics and teleworking to e-readers and smart lighting) and compared this with its negative emissions through its own operation and value chain (Scope 1-3).

2. It clearly shows that by both having a product/company perspective (the traditional) way of measuring a companies climate impact and the service perspective gives a better understanding of the climate impact of a company and hopefully such a “total emission approach” can turn into a global standard for major corporations within a few years.

3. The report (and press release) focuses on transformative solutions where new ways to provide services is the focus. Most other reports and studies today still focus on incremental improvements in existing systems (even though we know that this is not enough and often result in high-carbon lockin).

4. Through the calculations China Mobile can reasonably claim to be climate positive and a solution company that needs support to grow in order to deliver more of these solutions. To understand what companies that need to grow is important and I hope we will see more of these assessments soon for other companies and sectors.

5. Through the policy recommendations the report help to establish the need for focus on companies with solutions. If China include this perspective in the 12th 5 year plan, as recommended in the report, this would be a historic shift from problems (the big polluters) to solution providers (companies providing transformative solutions by delivering the services we need in a much better way.)

6. By using accepted methodologies the report demonstrate that it is possible to get an understanding of the savings from a companies services. It also demonstrates the need to further develop the methodologies and frameworks to A. Indentify, B. Measure and C. Report, positive contributions from companies.

7. Demonstrating clearly that thought-leadership and actual action in key areas are happening in China and that China can become a key provider of the solutions we need to reduce the CO2 emissions and the use of natural resources.

8. The report list key actions that are needed to accelerate uptake of transformative solutions. This provides a platform for further action among stakeholders working to support a low carbon future.

I guess I listed eight key areas that I hope to focus more on after this study.

Below is the press release
Beijing, China. A joint China Mobile and WWF study has shown the huge potential low carbon telecom solutions have to reduce carbon emissions, with savings from Chinese telecom solutions in 2008 estimated at being similar to the total CO2 emissions of countries like Sweden, Denmark or Finland.

Low Carbon Telecommunications Solutions in China: Current Reductions and Future Potential, which was presented today at the Telecommunications Sector Conference for Energy Efficiency and Emission Reduction in Beijing was carried out by the Service Management Science Research Institute of the Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications.

It estimates direct CO2 emissions savings from low carbon telecom solutions provided by China Mobile in 2008 at 48.5 million tonnes or just over six times the company’s own emissions. For 2009, the savings were 58.2 million tonnes, almost six and a half times company emissions.

“It is important to pay attention to the companies that deliver the solutions society needs, and not only focus on those that are big emitters,” said Dermot O’Gorman, the Country Representative of WWF China. “We want to support China and Chinese companies to take the lead in a solution approach that can deliver results not just in China, but globally.”

The estimates were based on detailed analysis of direct savings from 14 low carbon information communication technologies (ICTs) offered by China Mobile which were categorised into smart logistics (like matching truck journeys to load needs), dematerialisation (saving paper and other materials), smart work (reducing commuting and travel needs) and smart appliances (remotely monitored and controlled for energy savings).

The estimates are also conservative, disregarding the potential for indirect savings. For instance, while the energy implications from savings in paper from putting newspapers, sales brochures and invoicing online are calculated, no account is taken of the reduced needs for transport, storage and waste disposal or the knock-on infrastructure implications of such reductions.

“We are happy to present this joint report with WWF that clearly demonstrates the important role of the mobile telecom sector in helping China to move towards a low carbon economy,” said Jianzhou Wang, the President of China Mobile Communications Corporation.

“Many of our solutions are transformative and help people get better service with dramatically reduced emissions.”

The largest single current savings in carbon emissions lay in reducing commuting through teleworking, which could save an estimated 340 million tonnes of CO2 emissions China-wide in 2020. However, the savings from virtual meetings will increase at a much greater rate to an estimated 623 million tonnes of CO2 annually by 2030 when such meetings reduce the demand for commercial aviation by nearly 40 per cent.

The potential savings from smart logistics, dematerialization, smart work (including smart meeting and smart commuting) as a whole in 2010 is 399 million tons, 615 million tons in 2020 and 1298 million tons in 2030.

“This would be a significant contribution to the global greenhouse gas emission reductions and an important contribution to China’s target to reduce the carbon intensity of its economy by 40 to 45% by the year 2020,” said Yanli Hou, the Director of Climate Change and Energy Programme of WWF China.

“With the already existing savings and the great potential we look forward to continuing to explore the opportunities for China Mobile to contribute to a low carbon society,” said Guangze Qin, the Director of Working Group of Green Action Plan of China Mobile Communications Corporation.

The report recommends the recognition of the contribution of low carbon ICT solutions in China’s next five year plan, along with targets for the emissions reductions to be delivered.

“The government should stipulate emissions limits for certain services to support innovation and heighten the sense of industrial discipline in order to increase the incentive to use low carbon ICT solutions,” said Mr. Qin.

The short movie: "The 21st Century Office: A low carbon economy and transformative change"

The short movie is now linked to the apps for Android and iPhone as well on the 21st Century office web page.

Have a look at the movie here.

I will also upload high definition version when I can find a way to get a 500 meg file up in less than 3 hours (the time would take now).

The applications are doing really well and we are above 10 time the target already. Lot’s of lessons in crowdsourcing process and the final report/guide will be exciting to finalize.

Making the movie was a very interesting process. This is my second movie (first movie here) and I’m beginning to like the way it is possible to communicate a complex narrative. It is hard when you have a limited budget and have to cut some corners, but at least you end the process with enough ideas for a couple of more movies.

Of course the movie breaks a lot of rules in terms of how things “should be done”. But unless we try new things we will never deliver the changes that are needed. It is a balance between getting the message out to many, and telling the right message to those that really can use it. I rather have 10 people that can contribute to transformative change be inspired then 1 000 000 having a few laughs and then forgetting it. If the movie is watched by 10 000 people without any promotion I hope I have reached those ten.

The BP accident will hopefully result in a discussion about the underlying infrastructure and the need for transformative change. Hopefully this movie can help provide context for this discussion.

Hopefully the movie can also inspire more people to think and focus their energy on transformative changes. So many processes and organizations today have lost the passion and will to do something that they can be proud of. It is time to re-think the way we approach things and encourage those who want to do meaningful things.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Q&A for "climate positive" and "total emission approach

Here is a draft Q&A for climate positive and a "total emission approach". It allows companies to also include the positive impacts in society from products and services they provide. It looks beyond scope 3 and use a "service" rather than a "product" perspective. It also shifts the focus from the company itself to society.

Download the document here. Feedback most welcome.

Thanks everyone for the input and feed-back so far.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Leaflet for "The ICE Climate Academy"

"The ICE Climate Academy" is a very interesting initiative and could become the world's first initiative for companies with low carbon solutions. If things go well this will generate and inspire many of the most important winners in the carbon economy.