Just when you thought environmental sustainability had become so mainstream as to be safe and tame, maybe even have sold out its rebel roots a little in the race for acceptance… Politics in the US and UK lurch to the right – suddenly, the fight is back on. With eco more warrior than worrier, once more, we are outlaws again!
New writing… My latest piece for Eniday is now live, looking at the cutting-edge innovation being employed by breweries, comparing the approaches of three well-known leading beer producers: Adnams who have long produced the UK’s first carbon neutral beer (in bottle and on draught); Heineken, owners of the world’s first carbon-neutral brewery, opened this year in Göss, Austria; Sierra Nevada, the US pioneers of sustainable craft ales. Pour yourself a cold one and raise a glass to the pioneers ‘Brewing great beer, clean and green’!
Clean and green energy is clearly becoming increasingly attractive to investors and fund managers as they decarbonise and derisk their portfolios, from stocks and shares, to assets and acquisitions. As a result, new resilience and responsibility metrics can now be seen influencing corporate clients, as well as real estate deals and development.
This brief ‘listicle’ identifies 5 key drivers behind these recent and ongoing shifts in perception, principle and practice that are impacting markets worldwide and together helping create ‘A new climate for sustainable investment’.
Conscious consumption: How do you take it?
“Tall, decaf latte, half skinny / half soy, with extra shot, but no foam, in a venti cup, super hot, no lid, to go… “
Most of us have at some point queued behind a person placing a very specific and abnormally complicated food or beverage order (or we might even be that person). Assumptions about such a customer typically fall into one of two camps – depending on whether we think of them as showing attention to detail and high standards, or being attention-seeking and high-maintenance: We likely label them discriminating, or difficult. Either way, they probably did get the drink they asked for, because they could and they knew it.
Preferences and prejudice aside, the customer was simply making their selection from what was on offer. All the options and the custom combination (however unusual) are available. Nothing is being ordered ‘off menu’. The barista can make and price the drink for sale, just like any other, with no exceptional requirement on their part (except perhaps a little added concentration). The system works.
So, what if we take the view that it is all about getting green and ethical options onto the menu; not the ‘specials’ but the main board, the one in use every day, in every outlet, in every town. Fix supply; demand will follow. Rig the agenda. Simple.
But how far would you go? What about amending or removing menu items that did not fit with your vision? How much is it acceptable to load the dice with choice-editing to advance behaviour-change faster and further? At what point does your steer stop being direction and start becoming coercion? When does motivation turn into manipulation?
Just a little something to think about… over coffee…
A version of this article first appeared in a Special Report on ‘Future Cities’, published in The Times, 26 March, 2013.
According to data from the UN, in 2008, the proportion of the world’s population living in urban areas passed the 50% mark, heading for 70% by 2050. By 2030, the total for city dwellers globally is estimated to hit around five billion. These inhabitants already consume 75% of the planet’s natural resources and contribute to urban activities responsible for 80% of all greenhouse gas emissions. All this happens on a mere 2% of global land mass.
The numbers are daunting.