Guest Blog - Sustainability - A retrospective

31 May 2018
Geoff Bennett, Energy and Technical Services (ETS)

A guest blog from one of SBC’s original members, Geoff Bennett, CEO of Energy & Technical Services.

How to age after only five minutes of retrospection.

Eleven years ago, Energy and Technical Services (ETS) launched its bi-weekly newsletter called ‘SnippETS’ and I’m proud to say it’s still going strong.

In fact, interest in SnippETS and sustainability in business is at its highest.

So what’s changed over the last ten years, for those working in sustainability? And what are some of the drivers of change?

Well, it is interesting to note that the articles we published in 2007 wouldn’t necessarily be out of place today.

They included titles like: ‘Wal-Mart’s green impact’, ‘Computer giant Dell offers to plant tree for every PC sold’, ‘Grim climate change forecast for Europe’, ‘CEOs & Enviro Pressure President Bush for National Climate Law’ and, ‘Australians view climate change a bigger worry than terror’.

But since then, the global context has changed – shaped by some major (and sometimes disastrous) news events.

Firstly, we experienced the Global Financial Crash of 2008 and the first of what would turn out to be three terms of a National-led government. We also saw the British ‘Climategate’ email controversy in November 2009, where emails were hacked from the University of East Anglia with sceptics using them to claim that global warming was a scientific conspiracy. Eight subsequent, separate investigations were launched and no evidence of fraud or scientific conspiracy was found, but still, there was some damage done to the climate change cause.

In 2010 we had the Deep Water Horizon drilling rig blowout in the Gulf of Mexico, causing deep concern and a sudden widespread awareness of what we have to lose when we don’t sure up our environmental protections.

And In 2009, SnippETS covered the COP15 in Copenhagen, which attempted to design a framework for climate change mitigation beyond 2012. The conference was largely viewed as a failure at the time. However, lessons were learned and from 2011 to 2014 those working towards climate change solutions realised that the climate action movement really needed to get organised to combat the well-funded climate denial camp.

One by one, big cities and big businesses have come on board, culminating with COP21 in Paris and the signing of the Paris Agreement in 2015 by 195 countries. That really was the turning point, when the global community came together with its coming into effect on 4th November 2016.

Since then momentum has been building, to the point that all of the 197 signatories of the Paris Agreement now have at least one national law or policy on climate change.

So it’s taken eleven years for the world to act on the early 2007 headlines like, ‘Grim climate change forecast for Europe’.

Articles from our latest SnippETS include: ‘local governments and cities need to take a lead role on climate change’; ‘Using Blockchain to track sustainability progress’; And ‘Australia on the cusp of a renewable energy boom’.  Besides the article on Blockchain and new technology advances, the same themes and concerns seen in 2007 exist today.

How much will have changed (or not) in another ten years?