Climate change pays for Danish businesses

09-11-2009 00:28
Did you know that sushi chefs should prefer frozen to fresh salmon? And that when you are dealing with WAL*MART you would do better to sleep in cheap motels and look anxious to pay for your coffee? And that these things are related, in a certain way, to the business impact on climate?

That and much more was what you could have learned at a last minute business panel discussion on the final day of the Global Dialogue Conference ’09.

It’s good news that there are businesses that take climate change very seriously. It happens here in Denmark of course, but not only.

As Jacob Sterling of the shipping company Maersk Line and Henrik Dissing of the Confederation of Danish Industry (DI) illustrated at the panel discussion on ‘What is your company doing to address climate change?’, there is an increasing demanding for sustainability standards also among big retailers like IKEA, WAL*MART, TESCO.

WAL*MART in particular was mentioned twice as an example for its accuracy in selecting its suppliers. A list of 15 specific questions on the carbon footprint might be an understandable tool to be used in choosing the right commercial partner. However, paying attention on where the representative goes to sleep when he comes to sign the contract and if he pays for his coffee sounds a bit weird.

Those three brands were named because they are the biggest customers of Maersk Line that puts emphasis on environmental impact. And Maersk Line is investing a lot in positioning itself on the market as an ecological system to transport goods around the globe.

Its strength is that shipping salmon from Norway to Japan or cut flowers from Colombia to Europe produces 25 times less CO2 than air transport. And if we talk about live seafood the reduction becomes 30 times less. But, from that to affirm that sushi chefs should prefer frozen to fresh salmon there is a big difference. 

However, not only big enterprises are working on their carbon efficiency; also small and medium companies are playing an important role in the CO2 emissions downsizing. Actually, in Denmark, since September 2008, 12,000 of those businesses have joined the Climate Compass .

With  80 per cent of the companies having less than 100 employees, a single person is often in charge of the climate impact of these business. The web-based Climate Compas tool from the Corporation of Danish Industry supports these companies in reaching an effective environmental scheme.

Only a year after the beginning of the initiative, 40 per cent of the members of the Confederation have a climate strategy. And, as Henrik Dissing explained, according to DI figures, the main reasons why enterprises apply to reduce their footprint are  for reputation and branding (30 per cent) and secondly, for 25 per cent to reduce costs.

So, material interests can benefit in embracing sustainability and ethic needs. The problems are that not everywhere the engagement in the climate change issue is addressed with the same long-term view, and that the current regulation does not provide effective penalties for who are not reaching the emission targets. Do you know, for instance, that the shipping sector is not regulated at all?

by Guia Baggi

Category: Conference news


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