In response to recent questions on twitter: will biodiversity emerge from its environmental protection guise to become the new carbon, the driver for sustainability? New standards for the built environment are being discussed that will, I guess roll up sustainability thinking, environmental management with ethical sourcing, taking impact assessments to local, national and international levels, and possibly redefining ‘resilience’.
To be meaningful though we need to re-gain that connection with nature, with our environment, to understand we are part of the earth system, not apart from it.
(the following appeared on the Guardian Sustainable Business site recently)
Biodiversity is the new carbon in environmental circles, but can you really measure, manage or cost it as easily as you can carbon?
It was October 2006 when Nicholas Stern published his review on the economics of climate changefor the government. At the time, top climate change economist professor Michael Grubb hailed the report, suggesting that it “finally closes a chasm that has existed for 15 years between the precautionary concerns of scientists, and the cost-benefit views of many economists”. Four years on and many are pinning their hopes on the TEEBreport having the same impact on biodiversity.
Dubbed the new carbon, biodiversity just had its own international year of recognition with the UN, culminating in the Convention on Biodiversity in Nagoya, Japan. The summit placed the issues in the spotlight but there remains a feeling that an obsession with carbon emissions has distracted businesses and policy makers from equally important environmental challenges, such as the health of the world’s ecosystems.
It’s easy to see why awareness, acceptance and action on climate change have eased their way into the boardroom more readily than biodiversity. Global policy may be stalling, but businesses understand the concept of carbon measurement and footprinting; there’s also evidence emerging that cutting carbon brings financial benefits. A recent UK government report found some companies were investing £50k in carbon measurements and reporting, but saving £200k as a result. Not a bad return.
Carbon is relatively easy to measure, of course. Thanks to Lord Stern’s report, policy makers were also able to put a price on not dealing with the issue. Regulation is now snowballing, at least on a regional and national scale, and the pressure on businesses to cut emissions continues to increase.
However, attention is now turning to biodiversity. Research and reports have emerged showing the grave state of the world’s biodiversity. http://www.guardian.co.uk/sustainable-business/biodiversity-footprint-new-carbon-measurement-management