Old Business Paradigm vs. New Business Paradigm

Standard

During the last couple of month we RESD Students had an interesting time while following our course in Green Strategy and Sustainable Innovation. In this course we talked a lot about generic stuff like “What is sustainability for a company?!”, and we were surprised that it is not so easy to answer this question. In fact, we learned that in todays world it is difficult to follow a business paradigm that is different from the established way of doing business.

The slogan the business of business is business seems outdated nowadays, because if the performance of a company gets measured only by its financial terms a lot of things get missed on the way. A company is a lot more than only shareholders that want big dividends for their trust and CEOs doing literally anything to reach this goal; all the other stakeholders have not such an importance. Environment, personell, customers, do not get a treatment like they should in a society where money rules them all.

What we learned in this course is that there exist some people out there that are working hard on new business paradigms that could break the supremacy of shareholder primacy and short-termism. Here I will provide you the most important ones so you can check them out!

  • The Circular Economy (link), an economy without waste or pollution
  • Sharing Economy (link) based on collaborative consumption
  • The Purpose and Gift economy
  • B-Corps and Social Business
  • The Economy for the common good (link)

Give em a look, it will be worth your time!

 

 

Is the Earth full?

Standard

If you enjoy TED Talks as much as I do then you will certainly enjoy the following speech by Paul Gilding, a famous author (The Great Disruption) and consultant in the field of sustainability and resources.

Although this TED is from 2012 it is still accurate today, when he states that human mankind uses Earths resources in a way that is not sustainable citing the outcomes from the resources of the Global Footprint Network, according to whom 1.5 Earths would be needed to sustain our current economy and will grow even more over the next decades. The Australian former executive director of Greenpeace International claims that it is not possible that ongoing growth will lead to a disruptions all over the world, and that only a big crisis can change the actual situation. Unfortunately his speech is quite general and gives not clear answers on the question “how could humanity grow up and leave this area of no limits?”.

Personally I do not agree with Gilding on most of his statements because I think that he sees a lot of things in a very negative way (e.g. when he talks about the carbon bubble bursting or upcoming wars). What also bothered me while watching his speech was the necessity of a crisis from here earth and society should rise (somehow) like a phoenix from the ashes.

I suggest you to watch the TED and let me know what you think about this thoughts of impact people like Gilding think on our planets future!

Sustainable Transport – step by step reducing impacts caused by transport

Standard

It was never easier then now to reach the most remote places on earth, or to get the most exotic fruits from the furthest South American rainforest, and no end is in sight. In fact, transport will be growing strongly in the upcoming decades; with the progressing globalization and cheaper technologies, the transport of persons and goods will reach much higher levels then nowadays, where transport systems have a significant impact on the environment accounting for between 20% – 25% of world energy consumption and CO2 emissions.  All this traffic will have a huge impact on the environment of the whole planet, so one way to avoid some very bad pollution, accidents, commuting problems ecc.. could be to make transport more sustainable in the sense of social, environmental and climate impacts. Obviously all this should happen in a framework where it is possible to take up the opportunities offered by increased mobility.

So which are the possibilities to reach this goals? One way are Green vehicles that have less envirmonmental impact than equivalent standard vehicles, speaking electric/hybrid vehicles for private use but also in public transport. In urban planning there is another way of keeping city centres sustainable in transport: increasing pedestrian areas and bicycle lanes as those two are the most sustainable ways of transport, but also carsharing are good ways to reduce the different kinds of impacts. The fast progressing electrification of cars can help substantially to keep cities and the environment in general clean.

If you want to see some empirical application of the stuff above check out Denmarks Campaign “State of Green” where they show how things are done in Denmark.

 

Soil is a non-renewable resource!

Standard

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations FAO declared 2015 the international year of soils, and if you haven’t heard and thought about why healthy soils are necessary for a healthy life I will tell you now.

Way too often we forget about soil as a resource that provides food, feed, ecosystem services, fuels ecc… that ensure that humanity could survive on earth. Unfortunately it is a finite resource and its degradation implies that precious soil will be lost forever due to  unsustainable cropping, forestry and urbanization to satisfy the demand of growing population. Today one third of global soil is already moderately to highly degraded trough erosion, salinization, compaction, acidification, chemical pollution and nutrient depletion, states the FAO. In fact, the key messages for the 2015 year of the soil are easily understandable but yet important to remember: without soils no food production, no fiber and fuel harvesting. Damage to the soil is also a damage to biodiversity, which is hosted to one quarter on healthy soils. Soils help to slow down climate change and play a key role in the carbon cycle, while they store and filter water. Its preservation is essential for food security and our sustainable future.

©FAOfao-infographic-iys2015-fs1-en

 

Here you can find some further information on the topic and a high res version of the info graphics you see above. Have fun and stay tuned.

Reduction in consumption of meat might be a good idea!

Standard

I know that the post image might tempt people to eat some meat right now. But as I have written few posts before about how the meat industry is kind of more responsible for the pollution around the world. Documentaries like ‘Cowspiracy’ and ‘Food Inc’ are worth watching for some reason. Deforestation is done also because of meat industry. According to some assumption, the demand for meat is going to be higher in the future. If this happens, the 2 degree target is well of the table.

If you read this article on Carbon Brief, there is strong evidence that reduce in meat might really reduce the pollution. I really have reduced my consumption of meat since Jan 2015. I intended to completely quit it but I will be honest, I can’t quit it 100%. Ever since I have started eating more veggies, my cooking skills have improved as I can try to cook different types of vegetables ( going off the topic now).

 

These two images taken from the article shows how the current consumption is happening around the globe. If you do not wish to quite it, no need as long as you reduce a little.

Read the article for more details.

 

Source: Carbon Brief.

What’s in your climate agreement? – Konrad Luders

Standard
On December 12th 2015 the governments of 196 nations have finally decided to work together against climate change, a problem known to exist for more than four decades… starting in 2020! But can this be it? Have our governments really just managed to conserve a habitable planet for humans? Or is it too early to pad ourselves on the back just yet?
While it should be acknowledged that this is a big step forward, compared to previous agreements, the deal holds next to no legally binding regulations and the countries mainly responsible for the current state of the environment managed to avoid legal responsibility. Leveling off of emissions will not happen until the second half of this century. Even insurances that are mentioned in the agreement will not cover the main risks of climate change; rising sea levels, vanishing drinking water and droughts. Leaving small countries vulnerable. Only time will tell if this agreement is truly a success. I sure hope it will be, but sadly I’m pessimistic.
But what can we do in the meantime? We don’t have to wait for governments to start acting, do we? We all have the power to make changes every day, no matter how incremental they might seem.
Every time we step inside a car, we can ask ourselves if there are other means of transportation we could be using instead. Maybe we can spend the next vacation exploring the country we already live in, instead of flying half way across the globe.
The livestock sector is the largest emitter of greenhouse gases. So, every time we are about to buy or order meat we can stop and think about a vegetarian alternative instead. This does not mean we cannot eat meat anymore. We can eat as much or as little meat as we feel comfortable with. But, if we just stop and consider the consequences every single time, I’m sure more often than not we are going to choose the vegetarian meal instead.
About 1/4 of all food purchased ends up in the trash. That’s not only a waste of resources, but also a waste of money. Between eating leftovers and small scale biogas plants, there are plenty of ways to re-use food waste.
We can look for sustainable alternatives to big banks who keep investing in fossil fuels and move our money to those investing in sustainable small and large scale projects instead. Or, if we’re too attached to our bank, because the IBAN we have is just soooo perfect, we can at least voice our desire for more sustainable investments to our bank. There are energy providers out there who re-invest their profit in the establishment of more sustainable energy sources instead of paying big bonuses to their managers. They deserve more customers.
And finally, remember to ask yourself: “Do I really need another t-shirt?”
Learning about all of these alternatives is not only the right thing to do, it can be a lot of fun and very satisfying as well!!
Change the world! I know you can!

This post is written by Konrad Luders.

EuroEnviro2016  |  Vice Project Coordinator
Website: euroenviro.org

The Future of Transportation: The Port of Los Angeles

Standard

Right now I am following a very interesting course with the name of transport and regional economics. And the more I think about transportation, the more I realize how important it is to move people and goods from point A to point B. I wont annoy you with all the theoretical models that we use to describe transportation, instead I would like to tell you something about the Port of Los Angeles in California.

Why exactly this port? Because it will become one of the most environmentally responsible ports worldwide. To give you some numbers: The daily cargo shipped from there has  a value of 1 billion dollar, it has 70 km of waterfront and 30 km² of extension. The Port of LA is the 16th largest in the whole world. But what makes this port so special are the ways how the management of the port tries to reduce the impacts of the thousands of ship that visit LA every year. One way to do so is that ships that are inside the port get connected to a electricity power grid such that they don’t have  to use their own diesel engines for energy supply, reducing the air pollution doing so. The trucks that drive around the port area are all technologically up-to-date and work with electricity. All this changes made the water clean enough to swim in it (all tough, personally speaking, I wouldn’t).

The main problem that consist till today is the final transport, from the port to  the destination point, in fact engineers are planning an electric highway, called “eHigway” powered with catenary wires.

Check out the far more detailed article on gizmodo!