Sustainable Surroundings & International Enterprise

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Hi! Katie here. I’m about to go into my second year of studying Management, Politics and International Relations and I am particularly interested in the relationship between businesses and organisations across borders. These relationships don’t only include day to day trade but also the cooperative efforts made to address global issues- this is the reason why this trip, to meet with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, took my eye!

Climate change and other issues alike, are global. Not one country or one collection of countries can solve it. It requires effort from all parties. The WBCSD aims to raise awareness of such issues and to emphasise how simple changes made locally could lead to massive improvements worldwide. I am interested therefore, to see first-hand the research that has been carried out by the WBCSD and its members, and the developments that have been made as a result.

With many organisations and firms working together with the WBCSD and Action2020 towards a shared goal, the WBCSD council member meeting is not only an opportunity for them to share thoughts and proposals but also to network and form strong business relationships.

I’m very excited and lucky to be able to represent Lancaster University at this prestigious event and hope that everyone involved can gain a valuable insight into the ways in which sustainable development is progressing across the globe. This is certainly a once in a life time opportunity!

In order to enter for the trip, we were required to research the WBCSD and Action2020 and complete an essay discussing how a certain business solution may help to address climate change. I decided to research the business solution of Energy Efficiency in Buildings with a clear focus on how small changes can lead to global improvements and have attached my essay below.

I’ll be sure to write about my experiences during and after the trip but that’s all for now, enjoy the essay!

Katie McAllister

In Action2020, 9 priority areas are outlined to address environmental and social issues, a growing set of business solutions have been created to combat these. Pick one business solution and critically evaluate how this solution contributes to addressing climate change.

 

Action2020 is “a platform for business to contribute solutions to environmental and social challenges” (Action2020, 2016) with the aim of bringing companies worldwide together to work with one another to address those issues.
A set of nine business solutions have been created by Action2020 and member companies that can be adopted and adjusted for the benefit of all involved.

Energy efficiency in buildings is one of the solutions created with the specific aim of addressing climate change, and according to Action2020 “market leading companies recognise the critical role buildings play in shaping and driving the world’s leading energy consumption profile” (Action2020, 2016). In this essay I will focus on this business solution and the ways in which it contributes to addressing climate change.

Buildings consume one third of the energy used globally according to the WBCSD (2016). As buildings contribute so highly to energy usage it makes sense for firms to aim for more efficiency within their buildings as a starting point.
An immediate issue in the discussion of how climate change can be addressed is the fact that it is a global problem. This therefore raises the notion that climate change cannot be dealt with effectively until there is a worldwide understanding and acceptance of the problem, and the potential solutions. This may lead to some reluctance from organisations, believing that their input is invaluable unless everyone is involved. The WBCSD (2016) offer a welcome response to this by arguing that “energy efficiency in buildings is a global issue but needs to be tackled locally”. This proposal by the WBCSD ensures there is no need for firms to be discouraged as they are able to use the business solutions on a smaller scale while still impacting the global fight to address climate change. This form of global alliance indicates how the business solutions can be used by companies to achieve a mutually beneficial outcome. It is clear that many small local groups being involved worldwide would result in a huge overall impact and hence climate change can be addressed. While it may be mutually beneficial for companies to be involved in an organisation such as Action2020, we must understand how we reach targets and how many firms need to be involved before we see a noticeable change.

The Energy Efficiency in Buildings (EEB 2.0) manifesto created by WBCSD is an agreement amongst organisations to propose action plans that could address barriers to making buildings more efficient. “To date, over 140 organizations have signed the Manifesto” (WBCSD, 2016), this compares to the approximate 161,000 voluntary organisations that were in operation just in the UK in 2011/12 (NCVO, 2014). Although not all of the 161,000 voluntary organisations in the UK are in a position to adjust their buildings to become more energy efficient, it does, nonetheless, suggest significant under involvement. One of the key barriers that the EEB 2.0 Manifesto aims to overcome is lack of awareness surrounding such issues and a lack of leadership to guide organisations through the process of becoming more energy efficient. Evidently, it seems that the impact upon climate change will not be noticeable until more organisations become involved therefore suggesting a weakness in the WBCSD’s Energy Efficiency in Buildings business solution;; climate change cannot be addressed whole-heartedly until there are means and methods in place to illustrate to groups, as well as individuals, how a committed input could aid all parties. There are many reasons as to why a larger number of firms are not involved in Action2020 these are outlined in the barriers researched by the EEB 2.0 and include lack of consistent long term policies.

Climate change is an historical fact. However, it is only since science has advanced that people have become aware of the impact that they’re having on the world. In order to address climate change, it must be understood that there cannot be a proposal to completely eradicate it. However, the solutions that can be implemented will slow the process down. The targets set must be realistic and attainable in order to persuade more organisations to get involved and cooperate. According to the CEO of WBCSD, Peter Bakker (2016) “energy consumption in buildings needs to be reduced by 80% by 2050 if we want to limit global temperature rise to 2°C”. At first glance, this target looks highly optimistic but EDF energy, a world leader in electricity production and also a member of the EEB 2.0 manifesto, have seen a reduction in their energy usage of 21% between 2006/2013 according to Jean-François Vaquieri, EDF’s senior vice president (2016). When analysing this data we can see that, on average, EDF had reduced their energy consumption by 3% per annum and are thus are on target to meet the required reduction of 80% by 2050. It must be said that EDF are experts in the field of energy and renewables and this therefore could place them at an advantage as they are more aware of the techniques that they could adopt- however, this expertise could play to both EDF and Action2020’s advantage. EDF are able to set an inspirational example to other firms by highlighting how their relationship with Action2020 has helped them to sustain revenues of €75.6 billion in 2013 (Jean-François Vaquieri, 2016) but also to be able to contribute manageable solutions to the EEB 2.0 and the Action2020 proposals such as “If heating temperature is lowered by 1 ̊c it is possible to save up to 7% of energy consumption” (Jean-François Vaquieri, 2016)- a simple change that could be made by anyone (both individuals in their homes as well as large office blocks) but may contribute massively to addressing climate change.

In conclusion, the business solutions that have been proposed by Action2020 and the WBCSD offer various means for firms to become more energy efficient. Energy efficiency in buildings is a sensible starting point for firms who want to contribute to addressing climate change as they are able to implement small changes that lead to large results. The extent to which energy efficiency in buildings can address climate change however depends highly upon the effort that organisations are willing to contribute. Although some things can be done once and then never have to be considered again (such as changing the building’s temperature), there are other efforts which require much more constant attention and monitoring. Overall, the addressing of climate change is something that may be unmeasurable to individual organisations, therefore meaning that they cannot monitor their own input and achievements, this means that they must place trust in organisations such as Action2020 that their efforts are addressing the issue of climate change so long as they are working in line with the solutions that have been presented by the WBCSD.

 

ACTION2020 (2016), Business Solutions, [online], available from: http://action2020.org/business-solutions [accessed on 19 July 2016]

ACTION2020 (2016), Homepage, [online], available from: http://action2020.org [accessed on: 19 July 2016]

EEB TOOLKIT (2016), Energy Efficiency is in EDF’s Genetics, [online], available from: http://www.eeb-toolkit.com/index.php/modal-case-study-edf-modal [accessed on: 16th July 2016]

NCVO (2014), UK Civil Society Almanac 2014- How many voluntary organisations are active in the UK? [online], available from: https://data.ncvo.org.uk/a/almanac14/how-many-voluntary-organisations-are-active- in-the-uk-3/ [accessed on: 17 July 2016]

WBCSD (2016), Energy Efficiency in Buildings- An insight from companies, [online], available from: http://wbcsdservers.org/wbcsdpublications/cd_files/datas/business- solutions/eeb/pdf/EEB-An-insight-from-companies.pdf [accessed: 18 July 2016]

WBCSD (2016), Energy Efficiency in Buildings- Developing action plans to overcome market barriers, [online], available from: http://wbcsdpublications.org/wp- content/uploads/2015/12/EEB-why-get-involved-in-market-engagement.pdf [accessed on: 19 July 2016]

WBCSD (2016), Introduction, [online], available from: http://www.wbcsd.org/buildings.aspx [accessed 17 July 2016]

 

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3 Comments

  1. Hi Katie, I envy your trip to WBCSD, and being part of such an ambitious program. I am currently studying an MBA in International Business from the MCI University in Innsbruck. As part of my research, I am analysing Europe’s Smart Specialisation 2020 strategy (http://s3platform.jrc.ec.europa.eu/) which I realised may contribute towards your own research regarding sustainability.

    My major research project is regarding the digitisation of public services and joint venture initiatives, and will focus upon Extremadura, Spain, where I now live. It is a forward-looking region (for Spain), and it is following many of the standards defined by the EU program. This program includes a section on both energy sustainability and efficiency, governed by its RIS3 program )http://s3platform.jrc.ec.europa.eu/s3p-energy). You might find this helpful.

    One of the major concerns of Brexit I have is that the UK risks disconnecting itself from such EU initiatives. That would certainly make an interesting and timely research project for issues such as sustainability and efficiency. Good luck with your research.

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    1. Thank you for taking the time to read my post Christopher. I will be sure to have a look at the work you have done and the Smart Specialisation 2020 Strategy that you mentioned. Whilst I am away in Chennai I will continue to blog about the trip and my findings, it would be good to compare research upon my return.
      Katie

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