Surely reducing your personal carbon footprint won’t save the planet

Plenty of people are saying it and the rest are thinking it, as we browse the energy efficient light bulbs in the supermarket, unplug our plasma TV at the wall, or leave the car and walk to the shops instead. 

What’s the point in cutting our carbon footprint when more than a billion Chinese and much of the rest of the world are jacking up their emissions, as if there was no tomorrow?
It’s a fair question. After all, the atmosphere doesn’t distinguish between a tonne of Chinese carbon dioxide and a tonne emitted by Australians. So as the rest of the world carries on regardless, are the savings from recycling your drink cans or insulating your roof more than just a drop in the ocean?

If you or your company just stopped trying, would the planet notice?

Why sustainability matters
If highly respected investment advisors Goldman Sachs JB Were, believe that sustainable practice can add 25% to a company’s value, the question is why aren’t more Australian companies doing it?

In many cases, the answer is as simple as the solution is complex. They don’t know how!

Many organisations want to move beyond thinking of sustainability altruistically and start to lever it as an advantage. Unfortunately, as with many things in life and corporate jungles, it sounds easier that it actually is.

Goldman Sachs stated at the UN Global Compact Leaders Summit in Geneva in July 2007 that sustainability leaders with proven environmental, social and governance policies, have outperformed the wider share market by 25% since 2005.

Closer to home AMP Capital Investor’s Sustainable Investment Team point to similar results. Their research showed that good sustainability managers outperformed the rest by 5% over the past four years.

They were able to show that 77% of a company’s value lies in its intangibles, and that how a company manages things like human capital, culture and innovation is critical to success.

The top drivers for sustainability are climate change, green sourcing, commitment from the uncommitted, the search for meaning and authenticity and informational democracy.
Confused? You’re not alone. After all, the Carbon Disclosure Project found that only 9% of Australia’s leading companies understood the implications of their management of climate change.

It’s all about discovering the context you are operating in by engaging with your stakeholders to find out what makes them tick and why.

Context is the defining factor
Companies who are insular and present focused, or worse past focused, not only struggle to understand their context, but are unable to influence it.

Whether it’s lack of vision, ingrained short termism or an unwillingness to engage with stakeholders, these reactive companies are missing out on the big opportunities sustainability represents.

But sustainability wannabies take heart. If it were easy everyone would be doing it. So for companies looking for an advantage, that’s a good thing.

- Article by Rodney Wade, Environmental and Technical Manager, Finsbury Green

Finsbury Green, Australia's acknowledged leader in environmental printing practice, operating in Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney and the first carbon neutral printer in the country.
Typically, printing is an industry with poor environmental credentials, but since turning legitimately ‘green’ in 2002, Finsbury Green has more than tripled in size, and accumulated more than a little recognition. Finsbury Green has won a staggering 350 international, national and regional print awards, along with seven environment awards. 

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Article by Rodney Wade

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