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Saturday, June 2, 2007

Summary of Corporate Climate Response Conference in London

Rohit Bhargava wrote a nice summary of the event over at the CCR blog

"Below is a wrap up of the event and some central themes that may offer a useful summary for those looking to plan or do more within their own organizations for climate response. Perhaps it will also serve as a look forward at the next Corporate Climate Response event in Chicago later this year:

1. Reinventing Waste - Several of the best ideas from the event centered around reinventing the idea of what we call “waste” and considering it more in terms of “byproducts.” This idea was echoed through a discussion of heat and power and the insight that the amount of heat generated through transport in the UK is nearly equivalent to the amount of heat required to supply for current demand. The challenge is how to get it from one place to the other.
2. Low Carbon Does Not Equal Low Fat - A spirited discussion ensued on the topic of whether consumers may believe that simply because food products are farmed, packaged and shipped in an environmentally friendly way - they are automatically healthier. This, of course, is not true - but the smart marketers may see an opportunity in this. Whether or not Grove Mill’s zero carbon wine tasted sweeter or cleaner is not the point. In marketing where you are selling the story, the low carbon story is becoming more and more appealing to consumers.
3. Carbon Credits Are Misunderstood - This was a nearly universal theme that was shared by most panelists, speakers and even attendees. Consumers do not understand carbon credits as they work today, and therefore are as likely to see them as a “get out of jail free” card for companies, as we they are to see it as a beneficial effort for funding environmentally friendly and sustainable projects. The only solution is to offer more transparency to consumers about what these carbon credits actually buy. The credits may be virtual in nature, but seeing images of a carbon farm that is funded by these credits is very real. The industry must do a better job of demonstrating these efforts to counter the skepticism from consumers (and from much of the media).
4. Budget Is Not A Barrier- Perhaps the most encouraging part of the entire discussion was the refrain repeated from many speakers about how getting approval for major capital expenditures need not be the only way to affect change. The Church of England is advocating for each parish to go through a checklist and make changes to save energy and therefore saving money. Marks & Spencer is saving millions of pounds by switching from curved fridges in certain store sections to straight fridges. BT is working to change an outdated perception about the required level of cooling in datacenters. Each of these are low cost efforts in terms of expenses, but potentially yield big savings and impact on the environment.

At the end of the entire event, one is left with a sense of hope that there is much businesses can do without the necessity of spending huge amounts of money to make a change in their current processes. Everyone is aiming for a target of reduction from 30% to 50% of current levels … which, if anything, simply demonstrates how much wastage there is in the system that we have the opportunity to change. Climate change initiatives do not have to be painful or expensive. They simply need to be made a priority"

Video clip of Andrew Slavin's summary of the CCR

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