Person A: “I have my whole life to save for retirement. I still have to pay off my student loan and then need to start saving for a summer holiday. Somewhere tropical would be nice.”
Person B: “Each month, I pay a small part of my salary into a pension pot. I want to be able to afford a decent standard of living after retirement. I don't know who manages my pension; it's done through my employer. I know my employer uses one of the big, well-known investment managers, so I think I'll be fine.”
In 2009, the audition of a 48 year-old unemployed single woman living alone with her cat in rural Scotland became the most-watched Youtube clip in history. Donny Osmond cries when he watches it, Anne Hathaway watches it when she has a bad day, and ten times more people watched it than Barack Obama’s presidential acceptance speech.
Aristotle said ‘What it lies in our power to do, it lies in our power not to do.’ This is the ethical quandary facing the ICT sector and policy makers at the moment.
In 2008, the Global eSustainability Initiative (GesI), an ICT industry body, together with the charity The Climate Group released SMART 2020. It was a landmark report highlighting the ways that ICT can enable greenhouse gas reductions. It studied ICT enabling measures, including transport and logistics optimisation, variable speed 'smart' electric motors, building management and video conferencing. In total, it estimated the quantitative potential for those reductions to be 7.8 Gt CO2e, or 15% of total emissions.
In my first job as a fresh young environmental planner, an experienced engineer took me aside and told me ‘you need to understand, there are two things that all engineers like to do: build things using other people’s money, and solve big problems’.
His matter of fact statement has stuck with me over the years, and when I was introduced to Forum’s Engineers for the 21st Century programme it made perfect sense. Climate change is the biggest problem we have faced as a global community, so let’s get some inherent ‘problem solvers’ on the job.
Our Engineers of the 21st Century programme has been running since 1999, with two core objectives: to get sustainability embedded into the engineering profession and to help younger engineers develop their own skills and understanding in sustainability.
How can our buildings sit lightly on the earth as well as withstand the vagaries of a changing climate?
We know it won’t be the climate itself that causes the concerns. After all, what’s a marginal increase in temperature? But changing temperature will affect weather patterns, in turn creating more extreme weather events and knock-on impacts for, well, everything.
In the UK we’ve got a great start on understanding the potential future impacts of climate change. We have established this with some of the longest running data sets on past weather and the work of the UK Climate Programme. This provides models and scenarios for a variety of changes to weather patterns and highlights that a future climate is likely to be very different from today.
"You're a part-timer? Your life sounds full-time to me!"
So remarked one of my friends on seeing that I was listed in the Timewise Jobs Power Part Time List, citing 50 of the most senior-level part-time workers in the UK. The list aims to debunk the myth that only low-skilled, low-paid jobs can work on a part-time basis. I've been a long-time fan of Timewise, the UK's first specialist jobsite for professional part-time roles, and I'm happy to be on any list that makes part-time work something to celebrate.
Some of the trendsetters on the Power Part Time list, including our Patti Whaley (extreme top left)
How can companies influence consumer demand for more sustainable products and services?
This was the topic of a panel session I chaired at this week’s Green Strategy conference run by Green Mondays and featuring sharp thinkers from BSkyB, Nissan and Ogilvy Earth. And a question that is hot on the agenda for Forum's Sustainability and Brands Round Table.
Climate change poses huge economic risks to governments and companies alike. So why do they continue to ignore them?
With Scottish independence in the news once again* the usual economic debates are being fought out across the blogosphere. Is Scotland a net provider to, or a drain on, the UK coffers? Who’ll take on the liabilities of the Scottish (or are they British?) banks? And who gets all that oil and gas?
Ah, yes. The oil and gas. An asset for somebody – we just need to work out for whom.
Or is it?
The question about whether or not – or at least for how much longer – North Sea oil and gas will remain an asset is something that neither side is really engaging with.
Are you trying to create a sustainable value chain, but you're bit stuck on what to do, where to start, or not entirely sure what it would look like? Try these tips from our network event ‘Building sustainable value chains’...
16% of the world's pesticides are used in growing cotton. In India, over 4 million smallholder farmers produce it on less than one hectare, often running up huge debts to purchase pesticides and fertilisers.
1. Be realistic about what you can achieve. It's an obvious one to start with but think of a simple question - are you trying to improve the income of producers? Connect with consumers? Reduce your carbon footprint? All of it? Can you actually do all of it? Start with what you can achieve and your biggest impacts and work from there. Cadbury’s work on supply chains started with the focus on producers, the consumer benefits came later.
So, five days before the US presidential election and finally...finally...someone (a sometime Republican no less) has dared mention climate change. On Thursday the Mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, endorsed President Barack Obama for re-election and cited Mitt Romney's stance on climate change as one of the reasons.
Here in New York we're not quite at the epicentre of the hurricane damage, but we're near enough for our liking. The building that Forum works from is closed due to lack of power, meaning we're all working from home – going stir crazy but mainly productive. Friends in New Jersey - where the hurricane hit - have it worse: they’re on their fifth day without power and trying to keep kids warm, entertained and fed, with the schools closed. My friend did an hour's work today from the car, laptop on the steering wheel while she charged her phone in the cigarette lighter.
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