UPfront: Global Warming: Management Will Make The Difference

Private enterprise in the US is leading the charge to eliminate global dependence on fossil fuels, according to Eileen Claussen, president of the PEW Centre On Global Climate Change.

A not-for-profit trust, the PEW Centre works with 37 Fortune 500 companies – including Weyerhaeuser, Intel, Boeing, Dupont, Shell and Alcoa – committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to below 1990 levels. Their commitment reflects the overwhelming global consensus that the earth is warming; that this trend is likely to accelerate in the years ahead, and that human activity is largely to blame.

The companies involved believe that the science of climate change is compelling, and that over the long-term, their climate-friendly investments will pay off. They also believe that by taking the initiative, they can help government create climate change policies that work well for business.

Another important motivation cited by these companies is to improve their competitive position in the marketplace. And that, according to Claussen, has been the result. Each is on track to meet or exceed its greenhouse gas goal and all are finding that their efforts are helping to reduce production costs and enhance product sales.

In each of these companies it’s the focus of management, starting at the top with the chief executive, that makes the difference. Management has to be informed, concerned and motivated to act, to push through the changes and to get staff buy-in of them.

In business, greenhouse gas emission comes from the use of fossil fuels as an energy source. Reduce energy usage and greenhouse gas usage is reduced concurrently. two-pronged approach to energy reduction is needed. Firstly, reduce energy use by taking notice of it, (turning off lights, turning off computers at night, turning down the heating, making sure vehicles are tuned regularly and running efficiently).

Secondly, re-engineer systems to use less energy in the production process, and ultimately produce goods that are less energy consumptive.

“This involves all the individuals in the company doing their bit,” says Claussen. “You can’t make them. They have to want to. To get full company buy-in management must ensure that the issue of climate change, and what the company intends to do about it, is understood by everyone. It’s the cumulative effect of little things that individuals do that matter.

“The best way to recruit and retain the best employees is to be environmentally responsible and to make it known – that includes dealing with the climate change issue. We have companies which devote part of their magazine to climate change and what the company is doing about it. There is one company that ties the end of year management bonuses to how effectively employees meet their climate change commitments.

“Once you focus you find opportunities. Some of the opportunities have been process changes, in how they make their product. Some have been energy efficient opportunities.

“What top management can bring to this is the commitment and the direction to move forward. Once management is convinced then the board of directors has to be. If individuals are as well-read and erudite as they should be, as director, they should support energy saving initiatives, if not for the macro global warming reasons then for the dollar savings that reducing energy consumption takes off the bottom line.

“The only solution to climate change is fundamental transformation in the way we power the global economy, this is without fossil fuels and with renewable energy. This implies technological and economic transformation on an unprecedented scale and demands nothing short of new industrial revolution,” says Claussen.

* It’s good for the bottom-line. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is about reducing energy usage. This means smaller electricity, petrol, diesel and gas bills.
* It’s good for staff morale to know they are doing something positive about global problem that will affect everybody. It helps with recruitment of good people. It gives kudos and positive branding, which attracts clean green customers.
• Being an early mover, figuring it out and then being the leader means your company makes the savings first and gets the clean green kudos for doing so.

Need Help?
• EECA, Energy Efficiency & Conservation Authority, www.eeca.govt.nz has mountains of information, enthusiastic advisers and some funding to help with energy reduction.
• Environmental Business Networks. Contact Rachael Brown, Auckland 0-9-817 2622, [email protected]
• BusinessCare Trust, Peter Crosland, 0-4-801 9162, [email protected].
• NZ Business Council for Sustainable Development, Roger Spiller, [email protected]
• Environmental Consultants listings in the Yellow Pages.
• For more information on the Government’s climate change policy released in April see www.climatechange.govt.nz
• Take look at the green office guide www.greenoffice.org.nz

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