Author: Stuart Thorp
This is the 6th in a series of PMI Belgium monthly newsletter articles relating to Climate Action.
I was very pleased to hear positive comments from attendees of the PMI Belgium General Assembly on 24 January who had read previous articles - thank you for this feedback and encouragement :-)
Since Jan 2023, I have "retired" from corporate consulting activity to focus on Climate Action and have been quite busy in January including starting to study Climate Science in an online "MOOC" course led by Climate Science guru Michael Mann.
I did this as I wanted to promote Climate Action from a basis of stronger understanding.
Whilst the science behind detailed changes in climate is complex, the fundamentals can by summarised in quite simple terms:
Doubling CO2 concentration (from pre-industrial levels) will lead to increase in average global temperature, with a most likely value around 3 Celsius
This level of temperature increase would be catastrophic for humanity and other life on Earth which is why a "Carbon Budget' has been defined in the Paris Agreement with the aim to limit to temperature rise to 1.5 Celsius (or at worst 2 Celsius). Note that even at Paris Agreement levels of temperature rise, we will face many climate-related challenges in coming years.
The Climate Crisis is as much a challenge for humanity as it is for science. I found "Under the Sky We Make: How to be Human in a Warming World" by Kimberly Nicholas to be very helpful reading.
The key messages are:
- the Earth is Warming
- Humans are the reason
- there is no doubt about this
- it's a bad situation
- but we can fix it.
It's a great book (that I can highly recommend). I found the message very positive (that the Climate Crisis is fixable) hence a reason for taking prompt, positive action rather than allowing fear to become a blocker to action.
The book highlights that the consumption of the remaining Carbon Budget is a relatively recent phenomenon.
Back in 1978, only 30% of the total budget had been consumed, whereas that figure is now close to 90%!
This data touched and shocked me as I was 18 years old in 1978 so, during my adult lifetime, we have used up almost 60% of the global carbon budget available for all time and for all humanity.
This increases my feeling of responsibility to do what I can to address the Climate Crisis. I take encouragement from the fact that most of the damage has been done over a relatively short period which gives me hope that we can also fix this in the short period available - with significant progress required already by 2030.
Big Oil continues to profit
In my last article I referred to ExxonMobil's knowledge (since the 1970s) of the impact of fossil fuels on the climate.
In the last month we have seen announcements from other "Big Oil" companies of record profits:
Personally, I am very concerned by these record level of profit, on the back of war in Ukraine and at a time when consumers throughout Europe are struggling to pay energy bills.
An important opportunity seems to be missed - to invest these exceptional profits into the energy transformation necessary to reduce future dependency on fossil fuel.
While our impact on these companies’ profits and investment strategies is limited, as project professionals we can select the kind of projects we want to be involved with and the companies we want to work for.
Some better news:
I follow the regular posts from Katherine Hayhoe (a leading climate scientist) in which she has shared that the international Energy Agency released a new set of projections showing that renewables will be the top source of electricity and cover almost all of the world's growth in electricity demand by 2025, according to CarbonBrief.
This growth will push out the dirtiest and most inefficient way to generate electricity: coal.
With increased focus on the need for energy storage to balance sustainable production, the concept of bio-degradable batteries seems very interesting:
(also featured on the PMI Global Megatrends site).
Some corporations (e.g. Lego) are taking positive steps towards Carbon Neutrality:
PMI Belgium Climate Action initiatives
The last month has seen some progress in the following areas:
- PMI EU Chapters Climate Crisis activity: Engagement with PMI colleagues on a wider basis, has progressed through a communication (end January) to all PMI EU Chapter Presidents seeking a joint Climate Crisis initiative across EU Chapters.We aim to kick this off with a sharing of Chapter level initiatives during 2022 as well as plans for 2023 - so that we can create greater leverage and scale of our Climate Crisis related activities. The next key step will be a meeting (likely end March) to discuss this initiative and, subject to interest, starting to develop a plan across EU Chapters.
Climate Crisis is one of the 6 megatrends identified by the PMI:
- Scaling up and measuring the benefits - we have made initial contact with Count Us In who are targeting a global community of 1 billion participants by 2030 to drive Carbon pollution reductions on a massive scale by aggregating meaningful carbon pollution savings of individuals and organisations. The initial contact has confirmed the potential for a collaboration between Count Us In and PMI for the benefit of the Climate. This is one of the topics we will feed into the EU level discussion mentioned above.
- Educating PMI members on the Climate Crisis and equipping them to understand how they can help. We have remained in close contact with Sam Baker (the leader of the Walk2COP27 initiative). One of the key conclusions from the wide engagement of Walk2COP27 was the need for Education and better-informed action. Sam is leading a new education initiative in this area, based on the Climate Fresk platform, that he would be happy to share with PMI in Belgium and EU.
Sharing your Climate Action initiatives:
As I mentioned last month, it would be great to hear from more PMI members on your project management activities from the perspective of valuable Climate Crisis related topics that could be shared in future PMI BE Newsletter articles.
- what sustainability benefits have your projects delivered?
- how did you minimise your project's carbon footprint?
- how did you consider risks to the environment?
- your projects' contribution to the process of transition to renewable energies?
- have you applied sustainability criteria in the selection of suppliers for your projects?