In this episode Tony Hines reviews the need to achieve zero carbon to protect the planet for future generations. He examines what this means for supply chains and how supply chain thinking could contribute to help solve the problem. He offers some pointers of what we need to do and how you can play your part in the supply chain.
The problem in a nutshell is human activity and its impact on the planet. There are frequent temperatures rising in excess of 40 degrees causing wild fires in Australia, Greece, California and Turkey. There is a growing inability of the earth to reflect the sun’s rays to reduce ground and sea level temperatures. Deforestation and the imbalances that brings to capturing carbon emissions and excessive waste with chemical, plastic and other waste entering the seas and landfills. Biodiversity is reducing; animals are impacted badly by human activity destroying their natural habitat. Ocean and river fish stocks will be are depleted. Fresh water free from contamination is a problem in many parts of the world. Soil quality for growing crops is under threat as is the amount of arable land to grow food that is free from harmful fertilizers.
Many governments have now committed to achieving a zero carbon future by 2050 including the UK Government. This is an ambition target. Although many activists say it should be sooner. Doing nothing is not an option if we do not want to see average temperatures rise by 2.3 degrees Celsius by the end of this century. In a planned economy with a non-democratic government such a target might be easier to reach as dissenting voices and non-compliant behavior of citizens could be punished and enforced. In a society that is democratic and individualistic in nature it is less clear how the target can be reached in practice. Many of the statistics cited to promote the COP 26 event in Glasgow in November 2021 relate to actions and measures already in the bag. In other words it is not about the future but a record of past achievements to demonstrate the successes of the United Kingdom. While some of these achievements are not to be brushed aside we should now be focusing on the hard road ahead to meet the target of a zero carbon economy by 2050 after all we have just a short time to reach it. Every tonne of carbon emitted into the atmosphere adds to the problem. Greenhouse gases and CO2 in particular is the enemy. It remains in the atmosphere for hundreds of years. Because of this all emissions are cumulative as they stick around unless removed.
Since 1880 carbon emissions have increased average temperatures by 1.23 degrees Celsius. Each decade is hotter than the previous. It is estimated that this will increase average temperatures by 1.5 degrees Celsius in just over 11 years. This is significant because at that figure scientists claim that we will have reached the point of no return. The IPCC Report published 9th August 2021 makes uncomfortable reading about what we already know. COP 26 hosted by the UK Government in Glasgow (31st October through to 12th November 2021) will discuss further what needs to be done and what policies governments in 166 countries members of IPCC should implement.
What happens in supply chains in the production, consumption and distribution of goods contributes to global emissions. A balance has to be struck whereby industrial activity has to reduce the harmful effects of emissions and find new ways to capture carbon emissions as well as prevent them in the first place. Without the planet there is no tomorrow. Planet, people and profit are priorities in that order.