As temperatures continue to raise and the energy supply is threatened to diminish, immediate solutions which contribute to reduce the energy usage and costs are needed with urgency. As such, I decided to share some tips with you to do so. Hopefully they can help you reduce your energy bill and our countries’ dependency on Russian energy supply. Whether you’re a household or a company, hopefully my tips help you:
Do your energy intensive activities on the weekends when prices are lower. Cook on the weekend meals which can be kept on the fridge so you only need to warm them up throughout the week, using less energy and reduce your costs. Preferably, eat low fat meals as they reduce the body temperature and the need for low temperatures. Eat seasonal salads and fruit as much as possible.
Make natural air currents at home when temperatures are lower, typically early morning and late in the evening to increase freshness and reduce air con usage.
Close all windows and use blackouts to cut the light and prevent heating your place throughout the day when temperatures increase.
At night switch on as few lights as possible to reduce home light induced heat.
If your windows aren’t energy efficient, do change them to double glaze glasses and efficient frames.
Reduce the temperature of your shower.
Use light fabrics and light-coloured clothes.
Switch your bulbs to LED ones.
Fix the temperature to a regular level.
Roll the curtains down or install blackouts to reduce the building’s temperature.
Allow ventilation to prevent electrical equipment overheating.
Use natural light as much as possible.
Improve your office’s thermal insulation.
Instruct your employees to become energy efficient in the equipment usage and charging cycles.
If your country has large swimming pool capacity. Negotiate with your employees time off during the afternoons so they can work when is fresher and enjoy the swimming pools in the afternoon.
Invest in energy efficient equipment.
With care to your energy bill,
former energy strategic stocks manager and economist
We are a part of this planet history, being the existence of most of us a tiny fraction in its timeline. René Magritte, the surrealist Belgian painter, illustrated so quite well in its “Human condition” paintings, one of which pictured above.
This realistic vision is also myopic to the extent that most cannot see the collective impact of individual similar actions. Those squandering behaviours continue as more of the old or similar products are available at the distance of a shop or a click & collect. Ecstatic by the new items or services purchased consumers may perceive a life in heaven when in fact are continuing the curse on the Planet. René Magritte’s La Malédiction, (The Curse) from 1963 and pictured below, illustrates it quite well.
We do have a chance to switch the surreal curse into a real paradise! Switching from the unsustainable linear production and consumption model to the circular model is a way to achieve so.
Achieving sustainable circular economy models stimulates creativity and innovation in the quest of giving goods a longer life, increasing thus its usage not only in one product but also in subsequent manufacturing processes.
Reducing the national depletion rate gap which spans from January to December is thus a must. The later in the year the better. And the soon we can change those habits, the better. The big depletion rate comes mainly from the 1% who in their culture of wealth demonstrations drive the Planet to a continuous global warming. How about following Bill Gates in donating fortunes to well managed institutions to tackle global causes instead of continuously seeking to being featured in the Year’s wealthiest person. He is donating his to the Gates foundation. Well done Mr Bill Gates.
Human capital has increased globally yet there are nations that prevent it from being used, either fully or partially. This is a waste of resources that should be reduced too as in so doing and well oriented may lead to Natural Capital improvements.
René Magritte gives us a perspective of our existence. We have a chance to act with overlasting impact, too. Would be good that by 2030 the depletion trend we have seen in the last four decades as illustrated in the graphic below is reduced and by 2050 is reverted. Yes, we can! Obama said so and made history! Collectively, Humanity can achieve what is needed. It does request a mindset shift too.
In a recent survey to CEOs representing 46% of the world’s geographies, CEOs showed optimism regarding economic recovery. Yet, they also showed concern over its robustness citing cybercrime and health risks as their top priorities for 2022.
In spite of the 2021 economic impacts of Climate Change across the world and increased pledges on Carbon Neutrality and Net-Zero, this global challenge isn’t on many CEOs’ corporate agenda. In 2021 heavy rains destroyed infrastructures in Germany, China and India, to name a few. Consequently, energy supply was severely disrupted, contributing to prices surge. Recently, more investment has been announced on new infrastructures to strengthen energy systems robustness and reliability. During COP26 more pledges were announced. By its last day, a total of 5,545 companies had pledged for Net-Zero in multiple initiatives as the UN’s Race to Zero initiative, the Global Coal to Clean Energy Transition statement, the GFANZ (Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero). Yet, Climate Change isn’t on the top of their priorities.
This survey also found that companies with higher levels of trust from their customers tend to make bolder sustainability commitments, driving change and receiving higher levels of satisfaction. Those companies have lower gender gaps, too.
As more companies realised Climate Change is a joint effort whose risks will be better mitigated with more companies tackling the challenge materially, actions increased. Knowing a company is responsibly managing its assets and values so across its value chain, stakeholders’ level of trust in that management team increases. For example, boards get support from its shareholders. On the opposite side, as greenwashing cases were uncovered, customers who felt misled opted for sustainable solutions and employees left. Companies’ reputation dropped, too, as I could gather in a Corporate Governance research, I conducted in 2020. The increasingly number of pledges, the sustainable initiatives and commitments taken, show companies are becoming more aware of the need to operate sustainably. Doing so strategically, can help the company improve its balance sheet along with positioning among its stakeholders.
As of 30th of January 2022, some of the pledges signed at COP26 have expanded to:
34% of the 2,000 largest publicly traded companies
5,227 companies signed the UN race to zero
totalling 6,380 the number of companies with pledges. However, the lack of common standards, methodologies, reporting and tracking systems make the impact of those pledges difficult to assess decreasing the certainty on how many degrees global warming will be limited by 2050. This misalignment also hampers investors and lenders’ ability to compare and make decisions. How about increasing the usage of corporate power as a force for good on the Planet, People and Profits? Reach out, I am available to help your organisation on that.
In the long-awaited COP26, 197 parties have agreed to voluntarily comply with Paris Agreement’s articles in a global and shared effort to mitigate the negative impacts of Climate Change, now common and more robust knowledge. Notwithstanding, some nations prefer to ride freely, preventing the Planet to further progress on its population’s wellbeing. Some of its population oppose this attitude but the adopted strategy shows they are a minority. From Glasgow, where parties stretched extra-hours to get an agreement on art.6, my key take-aways are:
Sustainability leaders are making further global commitments to quickly limit global warming by signing the Methane pledge. 103 countries representing 40% of global methane and 60% of global GDP have signed so but not the top 3 polluters, India, China, and Russia, as per UNFCCC. The pledge is a quick win on the global GHG emissions race as methane has been contributing to 30% of them. In so doing, global warming is expected to be limited by approximately 0.2ºC in 2050 and air quality improved, with subsequent health benefits such as less air related diseases or deaths. The light blue scenario in the WMO’s graphic below is more likely with the announced pledge. Cutting methane emissions demands further change on fossil fuels operations (the largest activity contributor) and society’s consumerism behaviour, pressuring especially on the diet as methane stems also from agricultural activity.
The NDCs published aren’t enough. India, the third polluter as shown in the Statista graphic below with Statista data, hasn’t communicated to the UNFCCC its targets announced during COP26. Their intention of delaying to strongly commit for a greener and more sustainable economy and Planet is clear.
Developing countries are consciously polluting deteriorating global society’s welfare while enriching themselves, at the expense of all citizens’ health. The last-minute change from the expected agreement on “phasing out unabated coal” to “phasing down unabated coal”, seems a concession on the developing countries’ argument that they still need to grow their economies and hence, need to burn fossil fuels and increase atmospheric GHG, albeit is now common knowledge that practice has high negative externalities. The two Asian giants claim to have inferior capacities than developed countries, yet in July 2020 India banned power equipment imports from China, on which had been relying to expand its renewable generation capacity. According to Fitch, India imports 80% of the power equipment from China. At the existent internal production capacity Fitch’s estimates that India cannot deliver Net-Zero by 2050, as needed to limit global warming to less than 2ºC. The claim and the announced commitment don’t make sense. Playing with the existing rules and applying a pure money driven short-term resolution turned out to be a nasty step for the Planet and the most vulnerable. India is exclusively looking at its own belly button not playing together for our planet, a shared effort and goal. How will the world be if led by such careless and disrespectful nations? The low tactic played is environmentally unsustainable.
“You’re supposed to be phasing out coal over the next 20 years, you just signed an agreement with us,”
John Kerry, U. S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate to Xie Zhenhua, China’s Special Envoy for Climate at COP26
We said phase down.”
Xie Zhenhua responds to John Kerry through his translator, Reuters 14th November 2021
If we hadn’t done that we wouldn’t have an agreement,”
John Kerry to Reuters’ reports, Reuters 14th November 2021
I am a big supporter of globalisation and see both positive and negative aspects of the equation. Continuing with globalisation, enables best-practices to be shared more openly and the world can progress in scientific, business, educational and lifestyle sustainable practices. Not allowing so isn’t learning from history. We’re living in a different era with a global problem not faced previously with current intensity. If globalisation hadn’t happened, we wouldn’t have the current common knowledge on climate change causes and impact.
Sustainable Development Goal 16 aims to promote a sustainable society by promoting just, peaceful and inclusive societies. We’re still living in a backdrop where “conflict, insecurity, weak institutions and limited access to justice remain a great threat to sustainable development”.
The UNHCR claimed to have registered in 2018 the highest number in the last 7 decades, about 70 million refugees. Unjust sentences have been made; Amal and George Clooney have launched their foundation to make justice more just, The Clooney foundation for justice. Health treatments have been unequal; the Gates foundation helps to improve access to medicines in less fortunate places and medical research to eradicate specific diseases in those places. Misconduct has been widespread, from schools’ playgrounds to workplaces. If these were SDG indicators the SDG 16 evolution would be different than what is shown on the graphic below, extracted from the Sustainable Development Report 2021. Society won’t evolve if leadership doesn’t change.
Many agree that business should be a force for good, myself included. Milton Friedman argues, in his zero-sum perspective on sustainability, what is good for one is evil for another. Some interpret sustainability likewise, the Milton Friedman’s followers, some of them unconsciously. Although Friedman supported ESG practice, it was only on a low sphere of influence. On his perspective it was laudable if a small owner did so with his/her resources but not so much for the corporate executive.
“The situation of the individual proprietor is somewhat different. If he acts to reduce the returns of his enterprise in order to exercise his “social responsibility,” he is spending his own money, not someone else’s. If he wishes to spend his money on such purposes, that is his right, and I cannot see that there is any objection to his doing so. In the process, he, too, may impose costs on employees and customers. However, because he is far less likely than a large corporation or union to have monopolistic power, any such side effects will tend to be minor.”
Milton Friedman, New York Times, 1970
Others follow Alex Edmans’ perspective of growing the pie, some also unconsciously. Notwithstanding, sceptical and opposers have been shrinking and a community of the civil society, businesses and governments supporting sustainable initiatives, business models and lifestyles has been growing as more evidence sheds light into the benefits of doing so.
Sceptical and opposers should use their capabilities to do good instead of harming. It will make them more sustainable. Sustainability is the ability to manage the scarce and non-renewable resources so they last throughout generations, ensuring future generations’ wellbeing is at least as good as the current ones. Waste has thus to be reduced to zero. In not doing so, and not having leadership that enables so, a sustainable future isn’t foreseen. Good governance is one of the three pillars on which sustainability relies. Environmental and Social being the other two. Sustainable leaders should decide with an holistic perspective, embracing the three pillars.
Being humble, a leadership characteristic often taught and less frequently used, should also be dust free. What’s the credibility of an organisation that claims one value but practices another? Back in October 2019 the FT called business schools to be more sustainable and practice what they preach, recommending to follow the UN principles for responsible management education, two of them being sustainable purpose and values. Yet, being a PRME signatory doesn’t guarantee its compliance. Empirical evidence has shown big deviations regarding the first three principles, by professionals in top leadership positions, former students of signatory institutions.
Lack of credibility leads to unstable environments with implications at macro and micro level. What stability does a person (legal or physical) face in a place where regulation and policies have been set but misused in your face, with abuse of power, supporting out of scope events in detriment of events that fall within the public committed regulation, whose compliance would ensure a safe environment? Why aren’t its regulators independent? Why is history repeating itself in a different dimension? Thinking at macro level examples it comes to my mind when the Spanish government was sued by renewable energy investors after the committed subsidies were withdrawn. The same happened with the Argentinian government when unilaterally ended payments to its creditors. At microlevel, the situation also occurs. Some people have been harassed because (i) public transport and cycling were used to commute over private car; (ii) when the obvious was spoken, proven scientifically and empirically; (iii) gender and nationality. Albeit a complaint was made, existing rules were manipulated and harassment continued. What is sustainable about this? Nothing, in a common-sense world! Unfortunately, when faced with this type of situations some minds argue that as they aren’t in the human rights business, they shouldn’t be compliant with human rights. They can only be spaced out.
When individuals or organisations are harassed due to the sustainable options they have chosen or unchangeable natural factors, development isn’t sustainable. Myopic vision only sees short distance and the force for good gets forgotten to preserve unsustainable values. It’s like the Evil Queen silencing the Snow White with poisoned food, in her jealousy, instead of using her force for good.
How can organisations preach and ask to be followed on sustainability when they don’t comply with it and aren’t the preached humble leaders?
A survey conducted by Vault Platform in the UK (56%) and USA (41%) with 2,000 office workers suggests that, in both geographies, about 75% have suffered or witnessed misconduct in their working life. Bullying in the workplace is the most common misconduct experienced by over 50%, followed by harassment by 50% in both geographies. This seems a playground practice transposed to the workplace. UN Women informs that boys and girls experience bullying in their teenage years. Whilst boys most likely experience physical bullying, girls experience its psychological version. This evidence suggests that early education is paramount in stopping later misconduct while great governance could ensure its reduction in the contemporary workplace.
School-related gender-based violence is a major obstacle to universal schooling and the right to education for girls. Globally, one in three students, aged 11–15, have been bullied by their peers at school at least once in the past month, with girls and boys equally likely to experience bullying. While boys are more likely to experience physical bullying than girls, girls are more likely to experience psychological bullying, and they report being made fun of because of how their face or body looks more frequently than boys.”
Misconduct is a significant bad practice, very far from sustainable and ethical. The lack of psychological safety makes their net so strong that victims are unable to gather the sufficient support, making them feeling even more powerless, deepening so when rules are applied unequally. For example, to people of the same gender but different backgrounds. Events are manipulated. One falling within the policy scope is dismissed but another falling outside that same policy is protected with the strong consequences for the second aggressor. Although some organisations have processes in place, its misuse causes more harm than good. Isn’t the house upside down?
The Trust Gap Report also shows that misconduct at workplace has negative socio-economic implications. Yet, as the research shows professionals still misbehave, possibly when feeling threatened by ethic potential competitors to eliminate them. Using so has been destroying value for the organisations they belong to. GRI and UN Global Compact standards have indicators that help in tackling this big problem in the workplace, workplace violence and harassment, for those entities that want to change.
Now that COP26 is about to close, we’ve many alliances have been announced throughout these two weeks. It’s great to hear these public commitments to decarbonise themselves, and to influence other in doing so. Although this is a good step to improve the Planet wellbeing, Sustainability goes beyond SDG 13, Climate Action. Leaders have to build strong institutions to be followed. Complying with SDG16, Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions is thus another step to sustainable leadership. Wouldn’t institutions be showing authentic leadership if they cleaned their house first, ensuring good governance is carried out? Real apologies for the unsustainable practices some of their members have carried out against some stakeholders, events they were aware of let the unsustainable course of action run, would increase their credibility. Ignoring or pretending do not solve problems properly. Is time for organisations to remove the speck of their eye. Then leadership will be credible. Money is indeed needed to change the world and make it a just and stronger one, not a corrupt one.
The interdependence amongst governments, independent regulators, businesses and society exists to ensure good practices are kept amongst themselves, albeit not always functions well. Fortunately, the world and the Planet have come a long way and greenwashing is increasingly unacceptable. But more actions are needed as the end of COP26 shows. It seems also that we are moving from Milton Friedman’s zero sum to Alex Edmans’ growing the pie perspective.
The Emissions Gap Report, published this week by UNEP, supports IPCC AR6 and the UNFCCC’s NDC Synthesis Report with regard to the urgency needed to mitigate and adapt to Climate Change.
The efforts some countries expect to make, recently communicated through the updated NDCs are welcome. The World has become #onestepgreener. Yet, much more is needed as map 1 created by EGR team illustrates. Its efforts combined with corporate pledges only reduce greenhouse gases emissions by 7.5% (EGR, 2021).
To limit Global warming to 1.5ºC, with a 66% probability, a reduction of 55% from pre-industrial levels needs to be met by 2100, so atmospheric carbon concentration is at the 430 ppm maximum level. Different scientific sources inform the current carbon budget is over 410 ppm. Its increase rate has changed between 2.6% and 1% annually, according to World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) data. If we keep releasing at these rates, the carbon budget will be reached soon. In 2024 and 2025 respectively, as my calculations show in the graphic below, using WMO data. Given the current NDCs and pledges, a 66% probability of limiting global warming to 1.5ºC, by 2100 seems a too optimistic scenario. The EGR informs that with current emissions rate trend, the Planet will have warmed 2.7 ºC by the end of the century.
Emissions trading schemes, a big topic to agree on during COP26, have been contributing to limit atmospheric emissions in some sectors. As companies operating in those sectors are penalised for the GHG emissions they directly generate above the set threshold, they had to decide on its optimisation. Choosing the right scenario implies a thorough process, where sustainability needs to be at the centre of the decision making. Let me remind you that sustainability is a broad concept based on three pillars; environment, social and governance. A concept not always properly used, as greenwashing cases have shown.
We all inhabit this Planet. We all profit for the care we take of it. Like the community who takes care of its common property, the more stakeholders look after it, following the set standards, the better the outcome. When it’s a voluntary work, there will be free riders who will not contribute but will benefit from others’ collaboration. When collaboration is mandatory, the collaboration’s output will reach a higher level. Very likely welfare gains will also be higher. If this behaviour is scaled to a global level, with each neighbour being each country, mandatory global emissions trading scheme could be the most beneficial for the sustainability of our Planet.
Given that not all the parties have updated their NDCs and only 60% of G20 countries have set Net-Zero targets, how can COP26 succeed in managing the global GHG emissions effectively? Isn’t the world risking for the own backyard mindset to prevail over the protected forest one? Would setting national emissions trading schemes delay the Net-Zero goal as countries spend their resources on deploying so instead of allocating to deploy a global scheme? Getting countries to update their NDCs in a Pandemic scenario has been limited by the short-term political perspective. The EGR mentions that only 2,6% of public budget spent during the Pandemic were on activities that potentially reduce GHG emissions. This shows sustainability’s environmental pillar hasn’t been a core investment criterion. The world wasn’t prepared for the black swan and diplomacy failed to influence properly and seize the opportunity to change for good and speed up decarbonisation.
I agree with the EGR – The heat is On. Acting globally instead of individually, leads to efficiencies on capital allocation. When managing emissions with a global system, most likely corporate admin costs would be reduced. Capital savings could then be used to further decarbonise organisations’ activities. It also shows we are #togetherforourplanet.
Closing the Loop, an award winner Circular Economy documentary by Wayne Visser. SustainAbility in Habit founder, Filipa Ferreira will screen Freely this Sunday via Zoom at 15h00 GMT/16h00 CET. It will be followed by a short chat with participants to share thoughts and quick reflections. Documentary lasts 1h30 and chat 30 minutes of discussion.
The Paris Agreement states that the signatory parties, in recognition of peaking GHG emissions and its contribution to Global warming, should set decarbonisation targets so a “balance between anthropogenic emissions by source and removals by sinks on greenhouse gases” can be reached by the second half of the XXI century.
Carbon capture and storage isn’t commercially developed yet, meaning there isn’t enough capacity created to store the released atmospheric carbon, not to speak about the rest of the GHG. May it be because not enough R&D has been undertaken to understand the cost-efficient technologies to do so. Or studies may be inconclusive regarding the environmental impact of high concentrations of stored GHG emissions in the geological, hence, existent natural sinks.
A balance can be better achieved if emitted GHG are reduced, increasing the abated ones. Energy efficiency is thus imperative, and so is operational efficiency. Efficiency implies improvements in the resources’ usage in comparison to previous operative processes. If less resources are used, then less energy may be needed to achieve the same previous result. It also means less usage of other resources. Given the finite status of many resources, being efficient is paramount. Aren’t you happy when you achieve something with less effort? So is our Planet!
How can your organization achieve Net-Zero targets? Well, to deliberately achieve something you need to depart from a level of awareness. What cannot be identified cannot be consciously improved! If the process of achieving your Net-Zero targets is longer than other organisations, due to higher complexity of your manufacturing process and the corresponding value chain, you can start by setting Carbon Neutral targets to be achieved in the short-term, aiming at achieving Net-Zero at a later moment, but working towards them already. So, your Carbon Neutral goals should be focused to reach Net-Zero.
Neutralization contributes much more than compensation in limiting Global Warming to the 1.5C. Figure 1, above, illustrates a high-level roadmap to Net-Zero. Starting by knowing your operations, processes, products or services and the value chain is key to determine what GHG emissions need to be known and understand where should be reduced. What can be measured can be improved, right? By knowing your GHG emissions level for scope 1, 2, in addition to 3, for a complete decarbonisation, you can set the base year. Knowing how they can be reduced and the pace allows you to measure the reduction impact and the timeframe. Consequently, the target year, by when Net-Zero should be attained, can be set. Announcing the commitment is important. Your stakeholders will be happy to know the organisation is moving in the right direction, as any good friend is happy for you when you’ve achieved a better stage in your life. Having the right people and tools for implementation is key for the success of this target. You may want people who are purpose driven, those who understand why is important to achieve so at a faster and balanced pace.
Who doesn’t love a walk in a nice well-maintained park or forest? Or a walk in a clean beach? Or at the nearest park? Who doesn’t love the fresh air from clean environments? I’m sure the vast majority of human beings love that. So, why has Nature been so damaged by Humanity? Isn’t time to take bolder actions, preserve the environment and restore what has been damaged but still on time to be recovered? Why waiting for an irreversible loss to hypocritically talk about it?
In her opening speech at the 5th UNEP meeting, its executive director Ms Inger Andersen called for a united action of the whole society, driven by UNEP, as its duty to also care for the Planet so harm is contained: “We have to acknowledge that we need an all of society effort to radically change our ways if we are to make peace with the planet and therefore create the environmental conditions so that all of humanity can thrive, now and for generations to come.”
The UNEP report, Peace with Nature, launched last week calls for the urgent need to act on the global and interlinked emergencies of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution, so well-being for current and future generations is maintained, justice delivered and poverty eradicated.
“…our war on nature has left the planet broken”.
Mr Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary-General, on the forward for the Peace with Nature report
Climate change consequences on increased extreme weather events leads to sea level rise, biodiversity loss as reduction of coastal wetlands (which can be reduced [20%; 90%] depending on sea level rise), land degradation, pollinators loss, agricultural underproduction, or zoonotic diseases amongst other consequences that affect Health, the food system and well-being in general. For example, the loss of pollinators is expected to cause an annual drop on food production valued between [$234; $577] billion. So, why do we keep killing bees?