Threading the Needle: How BT Integrates Climate Stabilization with Economic Prosperity

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Bill Baue on behalf of Sustainable Brands about my role at BT and, in turn, the role that BT plays as an industry leader in the realm of environmental sustainability and sustainable business.

Bill was particularly interested in BT’s Climate Stabilization Intensity methodology (CSI) which “has set a precedent by linking greenhouse gas reduction targets to climate stabilization scenarios from the scientific community.”   Most businesses seek to do one or both of reduce their absolute emissions or reduce emissions as a unit of production , otherwise known as an intensity measure.  Intensity measures attract some criticism as they can allow an organization to appear to making progress but still increase  absolute emissions. However, in the recent economic downturn, we have seen the corollary; it is quite possible to reduce absolute emissions when economic (and therefore societal) prosperity is declining without improving underlying carbon efficiency. What we need to do is strive for economic prosperity and improved carbon efficiency. BT’s CSI methodology seeks to do that.

Below is a brief excerpt from the interview as to why BT pursued the particular target the company chose:

“We needed to review and refresh our carbon reduction targets to reflect business and scientific changes in the decade since we had set them. The way CSI came about was that we couldn’t easily articulate our rationale behind the specific level of the carbon reduction target we had — which was absolute. We realized we weren’t looking at things within a context. When it comes to climate change, the context is solving the problem of catastrophic climate change. Doing more isn’t enough; getting half-way isn’t enough: “half-catastrophic” isn’t a viable outcome! So the context we needed was to find the carbon reduction number around which the scientific community had reached a consensus as required to avoid catastrophic climate change, and we pinned our target to that number.”

Do you think it is possible to link environmental and economic prosperity ?  Is that the proper place of business?

To read the full transcript of the interview click here.

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