Welcome to our two weekly review of energy and environmental events and developments from both here in New Zealand and around the world. As always, we hope you find our collection of articles to be of interest in what continues to be a rapidly evolving area.

This week we start with breaking news by Brian Kahn. Six of the world’s largest oil and gas companies are calling for a carbon price. They are explicitly offering to be part of the climate solution by bringing their skills and resources to the fore. In a joint letter to UNFCCC’s Christiana Figueres, the six companies are asking for better policy clarity, and they see a global carbon price as an important element of that. Pricing carbon out of the market may seem a solution, but a holistic approach to sustainability would seem more appropriate if we consider the perspective on economic development taken by India.

David Rose reports that India does not see a way out of coal. Despite coal having major environmental and social impacts, the government has virtually surrendered the country to growth in coal use as a requirement for development. Pollution from coal is causing harm to communities and subsidies have failed to make electricity available to many. It’s not that there are no alternatives but the issues are complex. The “telling” point that India makes is that current emission levels are high because of historical actions and therefore not a responsibility for India. The message of sustainable development is however to consider natural, social and financial capital together. It appears the message on how to combine these issues in an already complex business case has not reached politicians in countries like India.

We follow with an article that literally brings sustainability to the table. JoAnne Berkenkamp reports how the French have designed new legislation to make people cut food waste. They have even created a new agency whose mandate is to influence the food supply chain from farm to the dining table, so landfills are only to be used as the last resort for disposal of excess food. This is an apparent response to people not voluntarily saving food. Again one may wonder if the sustainability message is compelling individuals to act sustainably.

Dunstan Allison-Hope points out how sustainability reporting is an important but complex process. Dunstan says he loves sustainability reporting because it is useful and insightful but he also hates it because it is complex and time consuming and few people read the reports. His observations include that reporting should not be by sustainability teams as this tends to muddle performance and reporting. He also says reports need to be simplified, but still be based on comparable protocol between reporting systems.

The largest corporate reporting organisations also realise the need for comparability between their systems. Next we discuss how the organisations have produced a guide on how those reporting can compare between the different systems.

Sustainability is a complex issue and if reporting is also made complex, those interested in reporting may struggle.

Those communicating sustainability should realise the human element is a major component in driving change. Elisabeth Comere discusses how CEOs who believe including sustainability processes in their businesses can increase revenue, often do not act to access the benefits available. The message may just be missing the human element which needs simple steps such as benchmarking and pilot projects to stimulate champions of change to pick up ideas and run with them.

If sustainability is to become the norm then the “millennials” need to be part of the process. Lee Ann Head tells how millennials are emotional about sustainability but then expect someone else to act on their behalf. Maybe always having parents who jump in to sort issues out has given them the impression that someone else will always act for them. Effective communication would encourage millennials to mobilise their innovative natures to address and act on sustainability issues.

Why may sustainability communication be failing? Alexandra Kueller highlights that to be successful, sustainability communication needs to be simple, and sustainability communicators need to nurture trust in their audience, and be more collaborative and tactful, especially with the sceptics. The issues are complex and ever changing, hence one cannot know everything. At the same time knowing how to mix logical and emotional arguments can help when looking to motivate the audience.

We really are at the end of ‘Business as usual’. Robert Kropp discusses how Capitalism needs to be reworked to fit in with the natural system processes of regeneration. The article quotes John Fullerton, former Managing Director of JP Morgan, inviting dialogue on how to bring meaningful change towards Regenerative Capitalism, and a relook at the bottom line. John Fullerton makes the point that money is not wealth and capital should include community and place.

After the Global Financial Crisis, many are beginning to consider climate change as a business risk. Naina Lal Kidwai writes that a growing number of governments, regulators, standard-setters and market actors are starting to incorporate rules concerning sustainability into their financial systems. Some countries are already requiring that companies listed on the stock market report on their environmental and social performance. Other countries are pushing ahead with green alternatives such as renewable energy and ‘green’ based initiatives. These actions need to be imbedded into the key interventions and also need to be applied more broadly.

We end this week with an article on how we can “Claim the Sky”. Robert Costanza reports that applying the Public Trust doctrine may just be the way. The doctrine dates back to ancient Roman Law and has been used by many countries to protect water, shorelines and wild life. The key element in the doctrine is that the atmosphere is a common asset of the global community and governments hold it in trust. It cannot be sold or abused and violators can be fined.

Thanks for taking the time to read this issue and we look forward to catching up with you again. If you have any items of interest you would like to submit, then please feel free to forward them.

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