Friday, 21 September 2007

"This Really Matters"

American pollster Frank Luntz recently held a focus group to determine British attitudes towards climate change. During the session, broadcast on BBC's "Newsnight" programme, something interesting happened.

Luntz noted that when he asks about politics, he normally needs to do a few warm-up exercises to get the group talking. But from the very first question to this group of climate change "sceptics and believers", "he couldn't get them to shut up." Everyone wanted to have their say, and Luntz could barely get a word in edge-wise.

I've seen the same thing. When the Carbon Clear team goes in to help a company with its carbon management strategy, everyone wants to get involved. Decisions that, for a similar montary value would be decided in one hour by a single purchasing manager, become discussions that last for weeks or months and involve every major department and the board of directors.


Frank Luntz asked his focus group the same question, and I'll paraphrase the answer from one respondent:

"It's because this really matters. When you ask who's going to win the next election, it doesn't really matter. This - it matters."

I think that's the right answer. Climate change isn't someone else's problem - it's everyone's problem. People feel they have a stake in the outcome, and want to get involved.

The popular view is that companies make a statement on climate change to add a bit of "green" to their corporate credentials. The reality is that it's a major strategic decision, and corporate decision-makers increasingly realise that if they don't propose solutions, someone else will propose something instead. It's better to get involved in the process and try to find an approach that works.

The steps a company takes to respond to climate change can have a major effect on its future competitiveness. When we work with businesses to develop their carbon management strategy, we look at the entire value chain - the source of their raw materials, their suppliers, what type of energy source they use, how their goods are delivered, even how their staff get to and from work. No wonder there are so many meetings.

Taking serious measures to help tackle climate change can change how a company does business, influence how their customers perceive them, and ultimately affect how profitable they will be in the future. At Carbon Clear, we work with companies to make the right decisions, and help them take action as swiftly and cost-effectively as possible.

As Frank Luntz observed, things can get a bit noisy, but we're quietly pleased when everyone wants to get involved. It shows that our clients are giving this issue the attention it deserves.

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