Back in 1992 a team from Boston Consulting Group set out to establish if they could determine what factors could be used to indicate the success or failure of change management programs in general[ sirkin2005hard ]. They concluded that four “hard factors” were highly effective at predicting the outcome of the program. These hard factors were:
A key concept in sustainability, widely applied to carbon markets, is “additionality”. It centres on whether a specific intervention that an organisation makes to improve sustainability delivers an improvement that would not otherwise have occurred. Understanding this concept is essential if one wants to set resource efficiency goals that are not open to criticism.
While it is clear that the measure of resource efficiency that has greatest environmental integrity is the measure of the absolute resource use in relation to the sustainable capacity of the planet, it does not necessarily follow that all improvements an organisation makes in absolute resource use can be recognized towards their own resource efficiency goal.
The Japanese have a word Mottainai which “reflects a sense of regret concerning waste” which can “lead to anger or protest when the person who is observing the utter waste is incapable of holding back their emotions”. Well that sure sounds like a polite way of describing how I am feeling just now….
We know that each year that we allow CO2 and other greenhouse gasses to accumulate in the atmosphere means that subsequent reductions need to be greater.
Back in 2000, in order to have a 50% change of global temperature rises not exceeding 2 degrees Centigrade, we needed to decarbonise our economy at the rate of 3.7% per annum to 2050. Today that target has risen to 5.1% a year because we have wasted the last decade with an average global rate of decarbonisation of just 0.8% a year.
Let’s be clear from the outset, if resource efficiency were easy then everyone would be doing it. Resource efficiency is complex. It requires many parts of the organisation to be engaged for protracted periods of time. It seems never-ending, no sooner has some improvement been made but there is a demand for more – whether to satisfy regulators or to remain competitive. In short, resource efficiency is not easy! The reasons to start the resource efficiency journey are nevertheless quite compelling:
When it comes to climate change, there really is only one measure that matters, the total quantity of Greenhouse Gasses (GHGS) in the atmosphere. That is why policy-makers tend to favour absolute measures of emissions. The UK Climate Change Bill targets set out a legal obligation to reduce absolute emissions of “carbon units” by 80% by 2050 compared to 1990 levels. This equates to around 3% per annum reduction every year for the next 40 years