Sunday, 31 October 2010

Rio +20, "progress" since 1972 in Stockholm

As we are getting closer to Rio+20 (even if few seem to care about it) I could not resist to post the overview that I did after Johannesburg as I was frustrated that there was no solution perspective.


”A point has been reached in history when we must shape our actions throughout the world with a more prudent care for their environmental consequences. Through ignorance or indifference we can do massive and irreversible harm to the earthly environment on which our life and well-being depend. Conversely, through fuller knowledge and wiser action, we can achieve for ourselves and our posterity a better life in an environment more in keeping with human needs and hopes.”
United Nations Conference on the Human Environment Paragraph 6
Stockholm, 5 to 16 June, 1972

”Humanity stands at a defining moment in history. We are confronted with a perpetuation of disparities between and within nations, a worsening of poverty, hunger, ill health and illiteracy, and the continuing deterioration of the ecosystems on which we depend for our well-being.”
United Nations Conference on Environment and Development
Agenda 21, Chapter 1
Rio de Janeiro, 3-14 June 1992

”We acknowledge that a number of positive results have been achieved, but we are deeply concerned that the overall trends with respect to sustainable development are worse today than they were in 1992. We emphasize that the implementation of Agenda 21 in a comprehensive manner remains vitally important and is more urgent now than ever.”
The Commission on Sustainable Development (Rio +5)
Statement of Commitment
New York, June 1997

”The deep fault line that divides human society between the rich and the poor and the ever-increasing gap between the developed and developing worlds pose a major threat to global prosperity, security and stability. The global environment continues to suffer. Loss of biodiversity continues, fish stocks continue to be depleted, desertification claims more and more fertile land, the adverse effects of climate change are already evident, natural disasters are more frequent and more devastating and developing countries more vulnerable, and air, water and marine pollution continue to rob millions of a decent life.”
World Summit on Sustainable Development,
The Johannesburg Declaration on Sustainable Development
Johannesburg, September, 2002

Rio +20

If they are honest the world's leaders will have to repeat the same message that they have given for more than 40 years now. Hopefully they will also provide a message regarding solutions this time... Today the solutions exist that can solve most of the challenges, we just need leadership and policy makers that don't listen to business leaders that cling to 20th century business models and see people as consumers.

Maybe a 100+ years old quote can inspire:

”You may accept this as the world of reality, you may consent to be one scar in an ill-dressed compound wound, but so - not I! This is a dream too - this world. Your dream, and you bring me back to it - out of Utopia.”
H.G Wells, A Modern Utopia, 1905

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Meeting in Guadalajara to explore transformative low-carbon ICT solutions in the global climate negotiations

This is very interesting and I really look forward to this.


Personal invitation

The Mexican government together with GeSI is convening a meeting the 8-9th of November 2010 in Guadalajara to explore how transformative low-carbon solutions can be supported in the global climate solutions. The host is the Government of Jalisco.

So far the ICT sector has not played a very visible role in the global climate negotiations, but a couple of things make COP16 in Cancun different:
1. Up until recently in the negotiations process the main focus was on the initial reductions agreed under the Kyoto protocol, about 5% reductions. It is now time to focus on solutions that can deliver significant reductions (for example 30% or more by 2020 in EU as being discussed by policy makers)
2. It is time to encourage more public private partnerships, and bring in the views of industry and various sectors and companies that can provide solutions to climate change, and not only focus on those with big emissions.
The ICT sector already delivers many solutions that help to significantly reduce emissions with 90% or more and that can contribute to a low-carbon economy. The meeting in Guadalajara is an important step to ensure that the ICT sector is an integrated part of the global climate discussions and that the solutions from the sectors are better understood and that knowledge about transformative solutions is shared in the global climate negotiations.

The outcome and recommendations of this meeting will be circulated to negotiating parties before COP16, and delivered at the CEO roundtable event on Dec 6.

We look forward to your participation in Guadalajara. Sincerely,

Rogelio Granguillhome
Assistant Secretary for Economic Relations and International Cooperation Ministry of Foreign Affairs Mexico
Mexico City, October 27, 2010

Gartner and WWF Assess Low-Carbon and Environmental Leadership in the ICT Industry 2010

I will put up the report the 25th of December here on my web, until there enjoy the press release and download the study from Gartner. The press release below and original press release is here
Egham, UK, October 28, 2010
The results of an assessment of 28 global information and communication technology (ICT) providers by Gartner, Inc. and WWF Sweden revealed that the ICT industry sees climate change and sustainability as an emerging opportunity. While it identified the emergence of a group of market makers, the industry as a whole fell short of making climate change and sustainability part of its core business.

"2009 and 2010 have seen rapid progress in the maturity of ICT vendors both in terms of their internal environmental programs, and the development of a set of low-carbon market offerings," said Simon Mingay, research vice president at Gartner. "We now have a clear group of market makers formed by BT, IBM, Cisco, Ericsson, HP, Fujitsu, and SAP who we believe are beginning to build a distinguishing capability. However, at this stage they have not really taken the issues associated with climate change and sustainability into the core of the business and their strategies, and they continue to deal with it within the mindset of incremental improvement and short-termism."

Gartner and WWF invited 28 global ICT providers* to participate. Nineteen chose to participate by providing the required information. Those companies include: Accenture, Alcatel-Lucent, BT, CSC, Cisco, Dell, Deutsche Telekom, Ericsson, Fujitsu, HP, IBM, Lenovo, Microsoft, SAP, Sun Microsystems**, TCS, Verizon, Wipro and Xerox.

The survey, the second of its kind, examined ICT providers' commitment to managing the environmental aspects of their internal operations and their supply chain. Very importantly, it also explored their capabilities in advancing the low-carbon solutions markets and developing products and services that will help them and their customers reduce their greenhouse gas emissions or increase their energy efficiency.

"The good news is that we don't see anyone going backwards," said Mr. Mingay. "But, across every category*** there are clearly a group who are on the move and a group who seem to be treading water relatively." IBM, Fujitsu, HP, Cisco and BT ranked in the top five positions, while others such as Verizon and Lenovo did not score particularly well, and held the No. 19 and No. 17 spots, respectively. Mr. Mingay said Microsoft, ranked in the No. 13 position overall, is making reasonable progress, from a relatively weak starting point.

The survey revealed that service and software providers have improved their position from 2008, but remain relatively immature in terms of both their internal programs, as well as their market offerings. SAP, ranked No. 8 overall, did substantially better than any of the other large software and services organizations. SAP has put sustainability at the heart of its communications and closer to its strategy over the last 18 months. The survey also found that Fujitsu, ranked No. 2, is the only ICT provider to set a long-term context to its initiatives, and want to help reduce more emissions in society through low carbon IT solutions than their own emissions. Fujitsu has set itself a carbon reduction goal in terms of its impact on its customers versus a target related to their own emissions. Finally, ICT providers in Asia (not Japan) are still lagging overall, but making some dramatic improvements, which Gartner analysts anticipate will continue.

The dominance of talking in 2008, when Gartner and WWF Sweden completed their first assessment has evolved into much more action in 2009 and 2010. "We now have a number of ICT providers with an actual low carbon portfolio and a readiness to move from an incremental contribution into the center stage when it comes to providing society with low carbon solutions," said Magnus Emfel, director of Climate Program, WWF Sweden. "It is precisely this shift — from ICT as a minor contributor to global emissions to a major enabler of low-carbon solutions — that we need to see replicated in business strategies and urban planning, if we are to succeed in the transition to a low carbon economy and stabilize the climate."

The survey also found that inter-industry partnerships are starting to emerge, particularly from ICT providers including Cisco, Alcatel-Lucent and IBM. This is a very significant and important step in ICT's ability to develop commercially viable solutions for a low-carbon economy, particularly around smart grid, intelligent buildings and smart city infrastructures.

When looking at ICT's own impact, and the focus on the 2 percent of ICT's global CO2 emissions, it has become evident that hardware vendors, such as HP, Ericsson and Fujitsu are increasingly focused on the energy efficiency of their equipment and making it a core business, while for software and services organizations this is not the case. Very few vendors are thinking about dematerialization in any real systematic way, though Xerox is one of the few exceptions that is reusing and recycling parts.

Collectively the ICT industry has enhanced its game in terms of providing solutions in other areas, e.g. transport and buildings, to help reduce the 98 percent of global CO2 emissions that are not generated by ICT, but that can be reduced with the help of smart ICT.

"Although the leaders in the Carbon Delivery sections such as IBM, Fujitsu, HP, BT, Ericsson and Cisco have begun to build structural capabilities, governance, and allocated organizational resources to addressing the opportunities of a low-carbon economy, their commitment still falls short of being integrated into their core business," Mr. Mingay said.

Gartner's client interactions and analysis of the survey suggests this is due to a lack of spending on low-carbon and sustainability-related solutions by the public and private sectors, except in the area of smart grids, but also to the ICT sector's conservative approach built on incremental changes in existing technologies and capacity.

"We were surprised at the lack of disruptive innovation, with the majority of responses essentially focused on the incremental 'client-driven' development," said Dennis Pamlin, co-author and independent consultant working for WWF Sweden on this project. "If the ICT industry is to deliver on its promise of making a significant contribution to enabling a transformation to a low-carbon economy it is going to require substantially more than marginal incrementalism."

"No one is making any serious effort to extend the life of equipment beyond the basics one would expect of improving reliability and quality," said Mr. Mingay. "But, with the management of e-waste and rare earth metals rapidly turning into a substantial global challenge and the growth of emerging markets the industry needs to be giving much more serious thought to dematerialization, recycling and longevity."

Additional information is available in the research note "Summary Report: Low-Carbon and Environmental Leadership in the ICT Industry by Gartner and WWF, 2010." The report is available on Gartner's website at

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Shaping Things, by Bruce Sterling

One of the unknown environmental activists of out time is Bruce Sterling. It frustrates me that he, and other people with a 21st Century perspective, is not given more room in the discussion about sustainability and climate change. He started the Viridian Design Movement in 1999 and closed it in 2008 I think there are good reasons to believe that people will look back 20 years from now and point at this, and other similar initiatives, as the start of the new generation of sustainability work.

Shaping tings is a fun book that is well worth reading. It has the feeling of a teenager that look at the world with fresh eyes and was allowed the time to get the thoughts down on paper. The structure that is presented is interesting even if the different phases of humanities relation to things has been discussed in countless books. The design and connected economy present a new filter for the history, but any reader should be aware that the book is also shallow in a way that makes it more of a source for general inspiration and less helpful for those looking for concrete guidance.

Still the book is written in a way that could/should inspire a new generation of activists.

This time not biologists and bird watchers that saw that the consequences of industrialization and gave us books such as silent spring 30-40 years ago. That was the first generation of “environmentalists”. It also moves beyond the current generation, that is dominating the discussion today, who uses the language of the economists and lawyers (often without deeper knowledge of the disciplines) and focus how the current system can be tweaked. These people spend the time trying to put a price on nature (eco system services, etc) or argue that it is illegal/expensive to destroy nature from an anthropocentric perspective that use today’s economy as the reference. They give us CCS, a shift in current car fleets to biofuel and other dead-end solutions.

If the first generation wanted to “get back to nature” the second generation wants to see incremental solutions, such as CCS and biofuel for cars. Sterling is part of what I would like to call the third wave of environmentalists that take for granted the fact that our planet has limits and that changes are needed. This generation approach the challenge through the lens of 21st century technology and values.

The focus is on how things can be changed, not on the surface, but fundamentally as we move into a society of transformative transparency (I like to call it that, others prefer radical or ultimate transparency. Sterling talks about transparent production. It does not really matter as the focus is the same, a world where distance and time does not equal less information/understanding). Sterling use the more academic/older term: “ubiquitous computing” and describes the book as ” a speculation about “ubiquitous computing in the service of sustainability”.

It is “designers” that Sterling writes about, designers that make things “talk” and that allow for a new transparency. The fact that we are destroying the planet and treating people really bad should not result in an urge back to a simple society, but provide energy to create a society that can give everything value (not prize).

I was surprised to see that the book is from 2005. When reading it I got the feeling that was written mid 90:s, or earlier, but we live in a time of accelerated change and if Sterling would write the book today I think it would look quite different.

In parts it is the technology version of Bret Easton Ellis. It is fast, fun and without any clear ethical compass. It is homo ludens surrounded by high-tech, but with an understanding that how we treat the planet and each other are fundamentally wrong. Not just from a “biological” perspective, but from an esthetic. Our society are designing ugly things in the sense that we destroy beautiful things and creating irreversible damage.

When Sterling presents his response to an unsustainable society it is in the shape of the “SPIME” that “have the capacity to change the human relationship to time and material processes”. This is when the books becomes really interesting.

Much of the later part is spent to discuss the outline of a world with SPIME’s. It is nothing very concrete but a lot of inspirational snippets. I like these rough outlines as they are like a good abstract painting where your brain is starting to see patterns and thing about different applications without being “forced” in a specific direction by the writer.

In many ways the project transformative-applications is inspired by similar ideas, but with a focus on the “beyond the blur” aspect. With so much of the current economy and development investing in entertainment and the feeling of belonging/connectedness the need to support those who do something (I think these are a specific group of the “Wranglers” Sterling writes about)…

Maybe the one major thing missing in this book is a discussion about ethics, what are the underlying values that will dominate the connected economy and what are the sub-groups that will influence the development of the underlying infrastructure and direction of the connected society.

It is a short book and instead of the airport literature written by people that seem to have only one idea, read this and enjoy a book of a person that has too many for the 145 pages they are crammed into…

Please try to find a version without the layout I had. I have no idea what Lorraine Wild, who designed the book, wanted to say with this when I read the book, but it must be among the most ugly books I have read. I would have expected a person like Sterling to be a little more sensitive when it came to visual pollution. Even if her explanation (as an appendix to the book) makes the layout a bit easier to understand I got the same feeling as you get for ugly art that is done by an interesting person, it does not help…

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Transformative solutions: The iPhone app

The iPhone app looks great and it will be interesting to see what platform (iPhone, Android or BlackBerry) that get the most downloads.

Download the app here

Monday, 4 October 2010

WWF Media Release: Meeting needs the way to low carbon revolution

Media Release
00:01 GMT Monday 4 October 2010

Meeting needs the way to low carbon revolution

Mexico City, Mexico ? Business leaders convening today in Mexico City will hear that meeting needs is a better basis for a low carbon economy than a focus for improving technologies for delivering the same goods that have met the needs so far.

A report issued by the Low Carbon Leaders Project, supported by the UN Global Compact and WWF, will tell the Business for Environment (B4E) Conference in Mexico City that transformations in the way that needs are met would produce much greater emissions reductions than incremental improvements in existing technology.

"Low Carbon Leaders are the companies who understand that saving the climate depends on revolutionizing the current economy so that the needs we have can be satisfied in totally new ways," says Stefan Henningsson, Director of WWF Sweden?s climate change programme and member of the Low Carbon Leaders steering group.

"These companies don't see carbon constraints as a threat, they use it as a driver for innovation. Instead of only improving current products on the margin, the winners in the low-carbon economy focus on what service that best can meet the needs and develop solutions for that. In this way that can increase revenues while taking carbon out of the economy".

The report "Low Carbon Leaders Transformative Solutions Leadership" lists twelve examples of 'transformative low-carbon solutions' that can provide services in a new and energy efficient way. Some of these solutions have the potential to build inverse relationships between revenues and emissions.

Five of these case studies are to be outlined in detail at the conference, which is expected to go on and call on governments to produce real progress in enabling a low carbon economy at the December UN climate conference in nearby Cancun.

A typical example for a transformative change is lighting which currently - based on conventional incandescent lighting - consumes approximately 19% of all electricity production globally. By focusing on that we need, e.g. light, retailers could help accelerating a switch to efficient technologies such as Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs and LED lighting. A switch that can save 630 million tons of CO2 emissions per year globally while also avoiding wasting US$120 for each ton of CO2 not emitted. A focus on light also supports the provision of timers so that light is provided when it is needed.

Another example for providing a service that meets a need with lower climate impact is to allow people to read with lower climate impact by changing from printed matter to electronic formats such as e-books, with internet bookseller Amazon now already selling more electronic than tree-based books.

The companies gathered in B4E will call upon governments to ensure a clear progress is made within the text of the negotiations later this year in the sixteenth Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework on Climate Change (COP16) that can accelerate the up-take of transformative solutions globally.

The B4E conference, convened by WWF, UN Environmental Programme, the Mexican government and the UN Global Compact, will also hear about an application of the new approach called "Moving the sun", using vegetables grown in areas with high solar input, such as Africa: the vegetables are grown organically without the emissions associated with fertiliser and pesticide production, consumed locally and surpluses are transported in low emission ships to fetch premium returns in retail organic markets.

Companies from different sectors are already cooperating to reduce costs and emissions in logistics. Such models of inter-sectoral co-operation can be used elsewhere to guarantee the lowest carbon emissions for a particular service provided.

"There is a tidal wave of companies, large and small, that are now doing all they can to provide society with what we need in new innovative ways that also dramatically reduce the emissions. Moving focus from companies as only a source of emissions to a situation where their potential as solutions providers is recognised would unleash the kind of innovation and collaboration that is needed", said Dennis Pamlin, Director of the Low Carbon Leaders Project.

"Today too little attention is given to the solutions that are available and how these solutions can be accelerated. As part of the project we now launch a web platform and mobile applications, and only in a few days during the preparation 40 high-quality solutions were collected. These solutions already help reduce almost eight million tonnes of CO2 and the aggregated potential for 2020 is more than a billion tonnes. I hope people will download the reports, visit the page and try the mobile applications. These show the passion and commitment among entrepreneurs around the world", Pamlin added.

The report is also likely interest to climate negotiators assembling on the same day in Tianjin, China, in the final lead-up meeting to the Cancun climate conference; it states principles and recommendations for policy makers, emphasizing the role of national and international policies to help companies make the shift to low-carbon services.

Policies for the low-carbon future to which Ministers and negotiators should pay heed include increasing research and development, agree on international action programmes to roll-out tested and proven low carbon technologies, e.g. energy plus housing, smart grid solutions, solar PV solutions, phase out fossil subsidies so that transformative solutions can compete more fairly, and tighten standards in a technology neutral fashion.

The Low Carbon Leaders Project has been developed under the umbrella of UN Global Compact "Caring for Climate" initiative in cooperation with WWF. The overview report and supporting materials including case studies can be downloaded from Facts mentioned in this release are detailed and referenced in the report and background documents available from this website. The Low Carbon Leaders Project is developed with the support of WWF, Global Compact, A.P. Moeller-Maersk, and Global Initiatives who provide the secretariat.

The B4E - Business for Environment conference will bring together leaders from influential global corporations and key global environmental organizations on 4 and 5 October in Mexico City. They are expected to call on governments to make a success of this year?s UN climate negotiations in Cancun, Mexico, from 29 Nov to 10 Dec.