Living in a climate emergency and how a small fish can make a big difference
Climate change is an emotive issue. From those who completely deny its existence to those who are so passionate that they chain themselves to roads to make the world stop and listen; there is one thing that we cannot ignore any longer – the world is getting warmer. According to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the earth has warmed by 1°C since the Industrial Revolution, with a further 0.5°C rise likely to occur within as little as the next 11 to 33 years.
Increasing global temperature and the drivers behind it, put a strain on resources such as clean air, food, energy and fresh water. Rapid adoption of more sustainable methods is needed to protect these vital resources. As wildfires burn from Alberta to Moray, a recent poll by Christian Aid found that almost three quarters (71%) of Brits believe that the climate emergency is more pressing than Brexit. That is saying something.
I have now been at the helm of GSI for two years, and in that time, it has become clear that organisations need to take climate change and sustainability of their business more seriously than ever. Once a tick box approach as part of a CSR programme, I now speak with as many chief sustainability officers as I do CIOs. As a result, this has meant that my conversations have evolved to discussing how our products will help businesses make more responsible and informed decisions to positively benefit the communities and land that they operate on.
And indeed, their requests to us have shifted too. Rather than simply being interested in the monitoring of land, we are often challenged to consider how these organisations can sustainably resource themselves. They want to help to move the needle as much as we want to help.
For those not sure of the steps they could take to start to make a difference to tackle climate change and move towards a more sustainable future, there are a number of areas which organisations can review to identify if there could be a few simple tweaks to the strategy that does not involve rewiring the organisation:
1) Supply chain – by moving to a supply chain that utilises local products, materials or skills, organisations could boost the sustainability of a business in the long term. Organisations like GSI work with businesses looking into things like alternate fuel sources – helping to establish whether biomass and residue fuel sources exist in adequate quantities in close proximity to energy demand and monitoring how land use has changed as a consequence. The principles of the UN Sustainable Development Goals are there to ensure no one is left behind and this means being aware of unrealised impacts on those who live and work in the environment touched by the supply chain.
2) Product resource – organisations can look at where they source their products from and if the creation (or growth) of those products will be sustainable in the future; both from guaranteeing quantity and quality. We monitor trends and changes in land use over time highlighting where natural resources are becoming depleted and where deforestation is occurring in support of the demands created by the shift in supply chain.
3) Fossil fuel use – large energy consuming corporations must start to consider implementing decarbonisation programs and move to more sustainable energy sources including biofuel and biomass residue as alternatives to fossil fuel-based energy.
While the team and I won’t be able to be the sole organisation that solves the climate crisis (though, wouldn’t it be nice if we did), we do need to be part of the solution and not the problem. It is rewarding to know that we are helping to make even a small dent in the change that needs to happen. For me, it’s all about how we as consumers and businesses take hold of the responsibility that we have and use that as a force for good in the choices we make every single day. At the end of the day we should ask ourselves: have we made a difference?