It’s time for Chennai! – Day 5

30th September 2016: 9:45 fourteen Lancaster students are supposed to fly to India. Jay and Divesh are late, no one is surprised. Freddy is running to Barclays to make a note that her card may be used somewhere in India. Jack bought his second coffee for the day and Callum decided to last minute change his joggers to real jeans (stupid decision considering we have a 14hr flight in front of us). Oli our babysitter is a little nervous, he has to make sure we all arrive safely in Chennai. Our minibus driver to Manchester airport was a star, funny stories included. At Manchester airport, we decided to take our first group picture for the trip, including the lovely emirates reception ladies. The excitement is sensible, especially after we realised that we will fly in the A380 to Dubai – best plane ever!

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The Road to Chennai – Day 3

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Gail Whiteman surrounded by the Chennai team

28th September 2016: Day 3 – The day we got to meet the heart of the trip – Professor Gail Whiteman, Director of the Pentland Centre for Sustainability in Business.

Gail shared her extremely diverse career path with the group, from studying for her PhD living with the indigenous people in the Arctic to working in marketing for a cereal company and Dentyne chewing gum. Gail soon released that some things were fundamentally wrong in the industry, and began bringing sustainability into business. Children’s chewing gum shouldn’t pose a carcinogenic risk, and who needs a $1 million dollar party for selling some cars, right?

Gail is the Professor-in-Residence at the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and is actively involved in incorporating science into our understanding of sustainability in business practice. Following on from Gail answering a range of questions on her career, inspirations and what we can expect as individuals from our time at the WBCSD, we all look forward to meeting her again when we arrive in Chennai.

Gail your passion was really inspiring, thank you.

Written by Michael Mander, Jack Hill and Frederike Kress

Sustainability Success Stories: Scandinavia!

Scandinavian countries such as Sweden, Denmark and Norway have been highly regarded as the most sustainable countries in the world, due to its vast renewable energy resources, citizen engagement and effective legislation. These counties have consistently emerged ahead of other major European countries on the basis of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) criteria, which includes environmental policies, emissions, energy consumption and biodiversity and is a lesson for nations all over the world to follow.

                       So how do Scandinavian nations achieve sustainability?

Sweden
Sweden has long been touted as the world’s most sustainable country. According to Firstcarbon Solutions and the Swedish Energy Agency, approximately 44% of the countries resources are powered by renewable energy and this number is likely to hit 50% by 2020. The country has been a pioneer in refining its energy supplies, with massive energy contributions from biofuels and hydroelectric plants. This focus on sustainability has had a ripple effect on Swedish multinational firms such as H&M, Volvo and IKEA who have incorporated organic cotton, development of hybrid vehicles and solar panels into their activities, respectively.sweden-wind-turbines-photo-00001
Furthermore, Sweden aims to become the first fossil-fuel free nation by 2050 and this aim is supported by the use of the ‘carbon tax’ implemented in the late 90’s.

Furthermore, the development of energy efficient ‘Passive Houses’ have been a huge phenomena in Sweden’s road to sustainability as it incorporates the production of energy though human body heat and sunlight, leading to the development of many green and eco-friendly buildings.

Denmark
Copenhagen is seen as one of the most ‘green growing’ nations in the planet because of its focus on becoming the World’s first carbon neutral Capital by 2025. It is a world leader in clean-tech and renewable energy with an ambitious climate change policy. As stated by VisitDenmark, it is also known as the ‘Capital of Sustainable Meetings’ due to the focus placed in the COP15 conference on managing and conducting meetings with the aim of achieving a ‘triple bottom line’ success. This is phenomenon is achieved by encouraging business travellers to fly with Scandinavian Airlines, an airline that offsets CO2 emissions more effectively than other conventional airlines and motivating them to stay in eco-certified hotels prior to their meeting. It also encourages conference event planners to conduct conferences in sustainable locations such as The Bella Center, which is a convention centre aiming to rigorously reduce carbon emissions within the decade and encouraging all businessmen to walk or take the train to these conferences.
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This occurrence has changed the business landscape in Denmark and incorporates more sustainability through eco-business meetings.
In addition, Denmark is a world record holder for organic food consumption and also consist of a large proportion of population cycling to work along with a high recycling awareness.

Norway
Sustainable development in Norway is not as progressive as the rest of the Scandinavian counties however, environmental legislation is still being constructively implemented and carbon tax plans, however unsuccessful, are consistently being renewed with fresh ideas and further policies.
Nonetheless, Norway has productively succeeded in sustainability for the ‘Aquaculture’, fisheries and fish farming industry, which is without a doubt one of the largest and most prime industries in Norway.
norway-aquaculture
The country has placed an increased significance on aquaculture and fish farming to ensure that the ‘genetic characteristics’ of wild fish stocks do not change, according to Fisheries.no. This may result in a change in the ecological landscape of marine habitat.
In addition to this, Norway have taken further steps towards sustainability by issuing ‘discharge permits’ to prevent fish farming locations from emitting large discharges of salt and organic materials leading to an environmentally sustainable agriculture industry.

Rainforest conservation has also been at the top of Norway’s list with Alternet reporting that Norway donated $1.6 billion towards protecting and conserving rainforests and has subsequently become the first country in the world to commit to zero deforestation!

To conclude, the rest of the world has a lesson to learn from Scandinavian countries when developing and implementing legislation and education for eco sustainability. These countries have successfully managed to engage in an efficient and productive sustainable means of living while still maintaining jobs and value to their respective industries of importance. Citizen engagement and knowledge has played a key role in achieving this aim.

Nonetheless, Scandinavian countries have spent extensively on renewable sources of energy and occasionally stumbled on the path to sustainability however, as Henry Ford once said

Failure is the Opportunity to begin again more Intelligently”

and that is exactly how these countries have renewed their efforts to fight for a greener planet.

By Divesh Lachhwani

References:

Alternet. (2016). 12 Ecologically Sustainable Countries and Why They Should Be Admired. [online] Available at: http://www.alternet.org/environment/12-ecologically-sustainable-countries-and-why-they-should-be-admired [Accessed 29 Sep. 2016].

Environmentalleader.com. (2016). Sweden ‘Most Sustainable Country in the World’ · Environmental Leader · Environmental Management News. [online] Available at: http://www.environmentalleader.com/2013/08/19/sweden-most-sustainable-country-in-the-world/ [Accessed 29 Sep. 2016].

Fisheries.no. (2014). Pollution and discharges. [online] Available at: http://www.fisheries.no/aquaculture/Sustainability/Pollution-and-discharges/#.V-zRmTukXdk [Accessed 29 Sep. 2016].

VisitDenmark. (2016). #BeeSustain – the latest buzz in the meetings industry. [online] Available at: http://www.visitdenmark.com/denmark/beesustain-latest-buzz-meetings-industry [Accessed 29 Sep. 2016].

VisitDenmark. (2016). Sustainable meetings in Denmark. [online] Available at: http://www.visitdenmark.com/denmark/sustainable-meetings-denmark [Accessed 29 Sep. 2016].

Wilde, B. (2016). How Sweden Became the World’s Most Sustainable Country: Top 5 Reasons. [online] Info.firstcarbonsolutions.com. Available at: http://info.firstcarbonsolutions.com/blog/how-sweden-became-the-worlds-most-sustainable-country-top-5-reasons [Accessed 29 Sep. 2016].

The Road to Chennai – Day 2

27th September 2016: Day 2 – Today we had an early start and things got a little more serious. A whole day of workshops with Rory Dale and Jo Hobbs, both working for the careers department at Lancaster University Management School, was ahead of us. Our first task was to organise ourselves in order of the distance we all had travelled to get to Lancaster; the standard deviation of the room was approximately 6,500 miles with individuals living in Lancaster and others flying from Malaysia! This lead nicely into our talks on sustainability. Continue reading →

In addition to our meeting with Gail Whiteman, some of our team went to a very interesting and somewhat unusual talk at the Lancaster Environment Center, hosted by Dirk Notz of the Max Planck Institute in Germany. Not many of us had been in this building before; our habitat is the Management School. But what we heard exceeded our expectations! To be honest, the very science-related part of the talk exceeded our understanding but expanded curiosity. Listening to scientists and trying to keep those models in mind when deciding how to make business decisions is exactly what current and future business leaders should do. In this blog we share some of what we took home from this excellent talk, and what we can learn from such scientific studies for business policy.

Arctic Sea Ice in Hot Water

Sea ice is vital to the Arctic Ocean, covering the entire area during the winter months, which then melts during summer due to warmer temperatures as a result of longer hours of sunlight. Sea ice follows the cycle of thinning over the course of summer, then expanding and thickening throughout winter. Warmer air and subsequently, rising water temperatures are reducing the amount of sea ice present and this change directly affects the health of Arctic ecosystems. Many mammals rely on sea ice for hunting and breeding. As a result, these animals are facing the threat of restricted food access and falling birth rates. The impacts on wildlife have a direct effect on the indigenous populations, such as the Yup’ik, Iñupiat, and Inuit, via the restriction of their hunting lifestyle for survival.

Over the past 30 years, we have lost approximately 75% of Arctic ice. The major problem that we are likely to face because of this, is an increase of heat ray absorption by the Arctic ocean. This process is called ‘Polar amplification’ and results in the Arctic warming up faster than the rest of the world, leading to more ice and snow melting.

Furthermore, the thawing of the ice caps leads to jetstream meandering and creates a shift in weather patterns as the difference in temperatures between the arctic and the area near the equator do not have a steep gradient anymore. It is the difference between the temperatures of the arctic and the rest of the continents that creates a jet stream from the west to the east.

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Source: TIME, Keren Su / Corbis

A report conducted by InsideClimate News suggests that jetstream meandering created severe changes in wind patterns that transport large masses of warm, moist air from the Atlantic to the Arctic, leading to a more drastic impact on Arctic ice caps. However, modelling methods are not capturing this shift accurately and any study on this is subject to further evidence and research.

 

Dirk also lamented the loss of beautiful Arctic landscapes and the cultures of the Inuit and other local people that lived in this part of the world. In terms of the former, he was concerned that the beauty of the earth is not being preserved, and that we will not be able to share it with future generations. He also spoke of the Greenlandic people’s’ loss of their traditional livelihoods – the air was no longer arid enough to dry fish, forcing them to buy fridges.

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Source: NASA, Trent L. Schindler

Given the research done on this area, it is too early to say whether there is an estimated time frame as to when or if Arctic ice will vanish and Dirk had effectively proven that Arctic ice caps have the potential of accelerating themselves. Furthermore, he highlighted the fact that if ice caps thawed rigorously in one year, it would regenerate rapidly in the year after and this trend was seen over a 50 year period.

A silver lining, however, is that there is evidence that Arctic ocean is becoming more of a carbon sink as it expands due to the melting of the ice caps. In addition to the chemical exchange of carbon between any body of water and the air, phytoplankton (tiny ocean plants) grow in the water, absorbing carbon dioxide in the process of photosynthesis. Furthermore, when these plants die, they sink into the bottom of the ocean where the carbon of their bodies are effectively stored.

But from an economic perspective, what is the financial incentive for large multinational firms to tackle this issue? There is naturally the pressure of maintaining a good public image and appearing supportive of tackling environmental issues, but Dirk highlighted that the melting ice also opened new Arctic sea routes. As this reduces transport costs immensely for these firms, they have a vested interest in, at the very least, maintaining this loss of ice to at least some degree.

Melting sea ice will have global consequences in terms of business by exposing new shipping routes for trade, as well as fossil fuel reserves. It is undeniable that there will be serious climate-related impressions on a worldwide scale, influencing both people and ecosystems. By choosing to act now and slowing the rate of sea ice cover loss, we can reduce the aggressive, negative externalities we are facing. The members and liaison delegates at the WBCSD conference will have an excellent opportunity to address urgent – and global – environmental concerns such as these, and begin the journey along the path to building a safer and more stable future for our natural habitat.

Written by Ben Koh, Frederike Kress, Divesh Lachhwani, Callum Hudson and Jay Mirchandani.

Sources:

1) NSIDC, 2014. Is the Arctic Ocean a carbon sink? [Online] Available: https://nsidc.org/cryosphere/icelights/2014/07/arctic-ocean-carbon-sink [Accessed 28 Sep. 2016].

2)Insideclimatenews.org. (2016). Greenland’s big meltdown in 2015 wore jet stream’s fingerprints. [online] Available at:https://insideclimatenews.org/news/08062016/greenland-arctic-record-melt-jet-stream-wobbly-global-warming-climate-change [Accessed 28 Sep. 2016].

3) RealClimate. (2016). Polar Amplification. [online] Available at: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/01/polar-amplification/ [Accessed 28 Sep. 2016].