Why Businesses Should Pay Attention to COP20
We’re entering the second week of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (or COP 20) in Lima, Peru and if businesses haven’t been paying attention already, they really should be. Let’s start with the hard facts here. Unilever CEO Paul Polman explains why tackling climate change is something that should be at the top of every businesses’ list.
It all comes down to that simple word: growth. Combating climate change makes economic sense for businesses. “The cost of acting,” Polman said, “is becoming bigger than the cost of not acting.”
In an op-ed for CNN, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Climate Change secretariat Christiana Figueres made it clear that no matter the size of the business, the spirit of entrepreneurship is vital for making a difference in the climate.
“It's easy to forget that some of the world's biggest corporations were not always that big,” she wrote.
Figueres points to “the Solar Queen of Southeast Aisa” a Take Wandee Khunchornyakong, who began connecting rural villages to solar—and eventually built a multi-million dollar industry out of it.
“She spotted an opportunity and seized upon it,” she wrote. “Observing regulatory changes in Thailand's energy market, she visited the local authority to obtain more permits to build solar farms. The clerk she spoke to said: ‘Please take more since no one else wants them.’”
It’s also important for businesses to take note since the rest of the world is watching.
“We challenge those in Lima to turn their attention from the lethargy and process of the negotiations and pay attention to what is happening in the real world,” wrote Greenpeace’s Executive Director Kumi Naidoo in a blog post. “We call on them to understand that climate change is not a future threat to be negotiated but a clear and present danger that requires urgent action now!”
If you’re a business who wants to start going green, check out the Guide for Responsible Corporate Engagement in Climate Policy.
All but two UK regions failing on school energy efficiency
Most schools are still "treading water" on implementing energy efficient technology, according to new analysis of Government data from eLight.
Yorkshire & the Humber and the North East are the only regions where schools have collectively reduced how much they spend on energy per pupil, cutting expenditure by 4.4% and 0.9% respectively. Every other region of England increased its average energy expenditure per pupil, with schools in Inner London doing so by as much as 23.5%.
According to The Carbon Trust, energy bills in UK schools amount to £543 million per year, with 50% of a school’s total electricity cost being lighting. If every school in the UK implemented any type of energy efficient technology, over £100 million could be saved each year.
Harvey Sinclair, CEO of eEnergy, eLight’s parent company, said the figures demonstrate an uncomfortable truth for the education sector – namely that most schools are still treading water on the implementation of energy efficient technology. Energy efficiency could make a huge difference to meeting net zero ambitions, but most schools are still lagging behind.
“The solutions exist, but they are not being deployed fast enough," he said. "For example, we’ve made great progress in upgrading schools to energy-efficient LED lighting, but with 80% of schools yet to make the switch, there’s an enormous opportunity to make a collective reduction in carbon footprint and save a lot of money on energy bills. Our model means the entire project is financed, doesn’t require any upfront expenditure, and repayments are more than covered by the energy savings made."
He said while it has worked with over 300 schools, most are still far too slow to commit. "We are urging them to act with greater urgency because climate change won’t wait, and the need for action gets more pressing every year. The education sector has an important part to play in that and pupils around the country expect their schools to do so – there is still a huge job to be done."
North Yorkshire County Council is benefiting from the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, which has so far awarded nearly £1bn for energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation projects around the country, and Craven schools has reportedly made a successful £2m bid (click here).
The Department for Education has issued 13 tips for reducing energy and water use in schools.