Tag Archives: economy

Mass collaboration on climate change; you tell ’em Tapscott!

Interesting read from one of my favourite authors (well, to be honest, only read one book…) – Don Tapscott, author of Wikinomics is blogging from Davos, Switzerland at the World Economic Forum (interesting things going on there too)

Yesterday’s post in the Globe and Mail is scary but empowering.

One observer — Most people in this room will not be here in 2050. It made me think that Thomas Friedman was right — an act of stewardship is required. I think it is clear from the discussion that there is a crisis of leadership on this issue. We need to mobilize the world, and the Internet is the linchpin. For the first time we have one affordable, global, multi-media, many-to-many communications system, and one issue on which there is growing consensus. Climate change is quickly becoming a nonpartisan issue and citizens, businesses and governments each have a stake in the outcome. Indeed, the global consensus emerging on climate change is that solving the crisis will require leadership from every country and every sector in society. The “killer application” for mass collaboration may be saving planet earth-literally.

Couldn’t agree more…

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Q&A from last post – Canada & Kyoto

On my last post about Canada’s stance on Kyoto and Climate Change, Jay made some pretty good points. So instead of just writing back in the comments section, thought I’d post them here.

There are two contentious issues here. The first one is freeloading. If “good” nations take measures to save the environment, then everybody benefits, good and bad alike. That means that the “bad” nations get a free ride. Canadian industry (the folks who will actually foot the bill) rightly thinks that this is unfair. China getting on board is a good start, but India has to get on too. There are a billion of them after all…

The second issue is the balance sheet, and the economic viability of implementing environmental measures. Although the global balance sheet is as you say; e.g. production has environmental consequences which cost everybody, this equation does not appear the same on the balance sheets of any one individual, corporation, or government department. Until that happens, nobody has a measurable incentive to change.

It would be an interesting exercise to come up with a scheme that solves both problems. i.e. a great B-school project.

Cheers, Jay

Good excuses but still excuses.

Kyoto and the freeloading problem:

True, India should get on board with China and the other developing countries but there are a few things to consider:

1. what exactly is the “free ride?” That they can keep on polluting? That’ll work in the short term but will undoubtedly cause bigger problems (and costs) in the long run. Hence, we’re not necessarily “footing the bill” -the countries that don’t move are creating their own bill to pay later on (i.e. health costs, contaminated water supplies etc.) By stalling, Canada isn’t helping anyone – especially not helping our own economy.

2. Canada’s stance is essentially, everyone has to agree or nothing will happen. What about the companies that are going above and beyond what’s asked? (Good info on what businesses are doing here) Are they “footing the bill” for the others? Is it hurting their economies/profits? Au contraire, for the most part, they’re boosting innovation, finding alternative local fuels (improve energy sufficiency), and getting a lot leaner and flexible organizations.

Nevertheless, it is true that if you move alone with Kyoto, setting hard to reach goals with penalties, you’re bound to get hurt. I was sad to research the effects that it’s had on Europe. (Going green isn’t always a starry-eyed experience) But did we really think that trying to undo the wrongs of yesterday wouldn’t have an economic cost? Of course it will! But so too are there costs for not moving!Let’s not forget that this is also still the beginning of the change. Let’s see who has stronger economies (and less health problems, and happier people) 20 years from now. My guess is that their innovation and improved consumption patterns will have beneficial impacts, economically, environmentally and socially.

3. Part of reaching Kyoto involves Flexible Mechanisms and an interesting one in this case is the the Clean Development Mechanisms (CDM). If Canada got serious about Kyoto, we’d have more incentive to invest in India, China and other developing countries (anything is better than our complacent investments in the US! Canada usually has a one-track mindset when doing foreign investments- and I’m sure it’s hurting now with the slumping US economy). By using the CDMs we’d be helping those countries become more sustainable and help our own economy innovate and expand.

Balance Sheet Issue

Companies and other organizations: there’s a lot to say about being eco-efficient.

  • Less waste = less money spent on trips to landfill
  • less energy used= less spent on energy bill
  • etc. etc. etc.

There’s also a lot to say about stakeholder dialogue. If you’re indirectly hurting/killing innocent people with your by-products, expect civil society to be at your company doors.

As for the other issues, the government has a lot of work to do. They’re paying for our health care and they’re in charge of the policy making. Again, they have to smarten up.

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Oh Canada… you’re embarrassing us

Well, embarrassing me anyways (can’t speak for everyone on this!)

I’m not really a political person but have to say that I’m disappointed with our gov’t right now in Bali at the UN Climate Change Conference.

The Conservative government’s message is unclear and, well, pathetic.

Baird (Canada’s environment minister) on Wednesday:

“All major emitters must be on board,” John Baird said during a speech in Toronto. “We will not tackle this problem of global warming and climate change unless we get everyone on board, everyone with an oar in the water and everyone rowing together.”

Their main concern is that fast emerging countries like China and India aren’t required to do the same. But, at the conference, China has surprised everyone by deciding to get on board while Canada, US and Japan are jumping ship? Great strategy Canada.

Another main concern – economic growth is just as valuable as the environment and we shouldn’t eclipse one for the other. Hmmm… I’ve never really understood this position. The two are inextricably linked and if you think otherwise, you’ve been reading too many economics textbooks.

PRODUCTION of goods = CONSUMPTION of natural resources

CONSUMPTION of goods = PRODUCTION of waste (environmental degradation)

Every aspect of this ‘equation’ has a dollar figure attached, so if the government really wants to look at the “economics” of moving forward with climate change policies then they should at least take a full-costing approach.

Wonder why China is now on board? (Well, time will tell what they actually do…) The World Bank just came out with a report entitled : Cost of Pollution in China: Economic Estimates of Physical Damages

Interesting finds…

the study finds that the health costs of air and water pollution in China amount to about 4.3 percent of its GDP. By adding the non-health impacts of pollution, which are estimated to be about 1.5 percent of GDP, the total cost of air and water pollution in China is about 5.8 percent of GDP.

I agree, we shouldn’t really sign something that we know we’ll never commit to in the end. But what effort are they really putting in? They keep on pouring money into non-renewable sources and then wonder why our emissions went up. Even economists don’t like subsidies (The Economist’s environment and technology correspondent has a great book on this). And to that extent, even oil and gas companies are starting to change their tune about climate change. Most notably, BP :

The following year (1998), BP announced a target for 2010: that greenhouse gas emissions from our own operations would be 10 per cent lower than emissions in 1990 – a tougher target than those set for many industrialised countries by the Kyoto summit in 1997. BP achieved its target at the end of 2001, 9 years ahead of schedule.

I think those countries that push for change will be the ones with the stronger economy in the end. It’s a classic business strategy. Strive for more, achieve more.

Canada, by trying to protect the precious economy, you’re actually hurting it. Smarten up.

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