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Kevin Moss, BT: From doing less bad to net good

Date
11 June 2013
Kevin Moss, BT: From doing less bad to net good

Kevin Moss, Programme Director Net Good, BT, guest blogs for us about BT’s Net Good methodology, vision and goal: to help customers reduce their carbon emissions by at least three times the end-to-end carbon impact of BT’s business by 2020. The framework will be officially launched at an event that will take place in London on June 18, with The Climate Group and the Carbon Trust.

For many years BT has focused on reducing its environmental impact. If you trace back through our archive of sustainability reports, you will see that we have been measuring our energy and carbon footprint and applying a succession of reduction targets to one or both since 1992. You will also be able to see that we have improved our performance on other measures too, such as total waste and our waste to landfill.

But we have reached the point where reducing impact by itself, is no longer sufficient to bridge the gap between the challenges of a growing and increasingly affluent population, and the limited resources of the planet.

New challenges

If you live in a developed economy, it may not seem like we are growing in affluence in these times of austerity. But many people around the world (hopefully some of them reading this post) live in emerging and still developing economies. Thankfully in some cases, standards of living are starting to rise from unacceptable to acceptable levels in these places. And as this occurs, consumption grows.

Add population growth to this, and we increase the likelihood of coming up against the constraints of the planet’s resources. We could even stress the planet’s resources beyond the stage from which they can recover

So how do we change the dynamic? We need to develop new models of growth that have, at the very least, a neutral impact on overall resources. Ideally, we strive for models of growth that have a net positive impact on the planet.

Net Good vision

BT’s Net Good vision aims to help society live within the constraints of the planet's resources through its products and people.

This is one of the three key components of our Better Future programme. The Better Future programme is integrated with our business as the delivery arm for one of the company’s six strategic priorities, 'to be a responsible and sustainable business leader’.

Our most material resource impact is carbon emissions. "But carbon emissions are not a resource!" I hear you say... and that is correct.

However, those places on the planet that we put our waste – sinks – are a resource we already utilize. Generally we put liquid waste into the water, solid waste into landfill and gasses into the atmosphere, hoping that the dilution over time or volume will be sufficient to mitigate the negative impact. But in the case of carbon, we have overused that resource to the extent that, by most accounts, we can anticipate a catastrophic result if we do not reverse our ways.

Hence we have to shift our ambitions from doing ‘less bad’ to doing net good.

The methodology

This is not an easy task. Achieving it is very hard; even measuring it is a challenge. We have been working on a methodology for about a year, using our involvement in standards development and working with partners to bring together things we have measured separately in the past, into a holistic picture.

It is time to put a stake in the ground. We hope that by creating and making available the details of our Net Good methodology, we will inspire others to do the same.

Or perhaps they can even try and do better than us, so that we can compare approaches, collaborate within and across sectors, and help raise the bar for sustainable practice.

The BT framework will be officially launched at an event that will take place in London on June 18, with The Climate Group and the Carbon Trust. Find out more.

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