The Absolute Truth About Marketing
Monday, October 23, 2006
  “An Opportunist’s Guide To Global Warming (and How To Make Money From It By Doing The Right Thing)”
Is your brand "Carbon Credited"™ yet? The time to start thinking about Global Warming is now, when your can gain maximum leverage by early mover advantage in your category. Our "Carbon Credited"™ program is an advisory service that covers mapping your organisation's carbon footprint, developing options for becoming a 'carbon neutral' brand, developing opportunities for engaging your brand's stakeholders and helping them learn to manage Climate Change in their own lives. You and your clients can avoid being lost in the upcoming rush of 'me toos', and be seen as visionary and proactive. Make a buck while making a name for yourself for making a difference. Email me or phone 02 9484 6761. You don't have much time. The issue is getting hotter.

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That was the ad. Sandy from a marketing communications agency in Melbourne, Australia asked me to explain the issue and how he can help his clients. This was my reply:

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Every company and every individual has a “carbon footprint” or CO2 load that is shed on their behalf as a result of their energy consumption – whether it be a power company burning coal to provide electricity to run their lights and appliances and equipment... or the car they drive or the bus they ride on... or the factory burning carbon in the form of coal (for electricity) or oil (for combustion engines). Just by living a modern consumer lifestyle we are emitting greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, etc), either directly or by proxie. This would not be so bad if the carbon cycle remained in balance. Carbon cycles through the air, is sucked into the soil or the ocean by photosynthesis and other processes, released again by plants at night or by farmers ploughing fields or burning stubble, or people burning wood in fireplaces, or green waste rotting, etc. The world was able, until 200 years ago, to keep the CO2 in balance. But 200 years ago man’s impact on the atmosphere increased as he started spreading out across the face of the globe after the Industrial Revolution gave us the power to do more labour with fewer people. The machines were powered by wood, then coal, then oil. Coal and Oil were once organic matter – plants and animals are mostly made of carbon – that was locked up under the earth’s crust, retired from the cycle. Man released it and the world was incapable of sucking up (“sequestering”) enough of this ‘free radical’ CO2. And the natural level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, for so long held at around 250 ppm (parts per million), rose to 300+ ppm. It is climbing inevitably towards 400ppm. This is a problem for the earth’s atmosphere because there is a natural layer of greenhouse gases which regulates how much of the sun’s rays bounce around on earth and how much passes back out. When this layer gets thicker, more of the sun’s rays are trapped, like in a greenhouse. The result: the temperature rises. If the mean temperature of the earth’s atmosphere rises 1°C we get unusual weather events and ice caps at the poles start to melt. If it rises 2°C, we encounter severe weather events, higher temperatures, lower rainfall in some places, higher/heavier rainfall in other places. Greenland could melt and the sea level rise to inundate low lying islands and coastal regions. If it rises by 3°C, a major ice melt in the North Atlantic could completely stop the ‘conveyor belt’ in the oceans that distributes warm water around and maintains the water temperature. The last time this stopped, it caused an Ice Age in Europe. Extreme weather events such as typhoons, catastrophic landslips and wind storms are likely... At this level, crops could fail, transport and distribution infrastructure is destroyed, the complex economies that underpin our lifestyles could break down, millions of people are displaced and converge on other countries, causing a refugee crisis of Biblical proportions. A leaked scenario document from the Pentagon predicted that Australia could be invaded by a flotilla of people from Asia forced to search for living space. Our military forces are not large enough to withstand the sheer volume. The world’s scientists have agreed among themselves that, no matter what we do, the temperature is going up at least 2°C. What can we do to avoid 4°C? Two things: 1. stop emitting as much CO2 as we can asap. 2. Suck up as much CO2 out of the atmosphere that we can (Sequester it) asap. The nations of the world spent 10 years negotiating the Kyoto Protocol which would phase in limits on what companies could emit, hoping to reduce emissions to 1990 levels by 2030. 167 nations signed and ratified and two nations refused at the last minute: USA and Australia. All the others agreed to start a ‘cap and trade’ system. (Some developing nations were allowed to stay out of round 1, ending in 2012, and join round 2. Australia and USA objected to this because China and India are fast becoming the world’s 2nd and 3rd largest emitters. The USA is responsible for around 35%-40% of the world’s emissions (when you factor in their footprint in other countries which manufacture goods to be imported into the USA.) Cap and Trade means you are given your target as a nation and the nation in turn gives its industries their caps or reduction targets, and the companies get their caps. And they set about finding out what their emissions are and how they are being produced. They look for ways to cut down emissions, eg. reduce power usage. There are lots of ways to do it. But few can meet their caps, so they “trade” carbon credits with companies or organisations who have ‘sequestered” carbon. This can be done by growing a forest, setting up a wind farm, and there are other techniques. These ‘credits’ enable the buyer to become ‘carbon neutral’. By doing this the company or family or individual have done their bit in the global effort to avoid the worst outcomes predicted for the earth if we allow the temperature to rise much more than 2°C. But other steps will need to be taken to prepare for the expected disruptions to business as usual. Risk management projects could be launched within the organisation to develop responses to potential threats, ie. Loss of power, increased temperatures, disruption of transport systems, and the like. Insurance companies will want to know what their plans are. SO stakeholders (shareholders, customers, suppliers, regulators, financiers, insurers) will need to be engaged in the ‘story’ of carbon and how it could affect the company and them. Companies that act early based on a vision and a sense of leadership will gain a brand bonus. Those who do it because they are forced to do it will not. Cap and Trade is a reality in NSW and VIC. It will be a reality as soon as Bush steps down (if he is not shamed into it sooner) and John Howard will follow. Industry (including some power companies but no coal companies) are demanding a market-driven regime to help them plan their liabilities and gain certainty. The majority opinion in the USA is that it is inevitable because, try as they may, Governments cannot control the weather. The upcoming elections for the US Congress and Senate are expected to deliver control back to the Democrats, who are in favour of cap and trade. Corporate leaders, such as the CEO of the world’s largest financial institution, GE Credit, are planning for it. Many companies in both countries have voluntarily entered into arrangements to reduce their emissions. It is better to start now when demand factors mean carbon credits are less expensive than they will be once the tsunami arrives.

What we offer:

We help companies like yours introduce the concept to their clients.
We help your clients determine their carbon footprint.
We help them analyse their potential emission savings.
We help them choose ‘abatement’ instruments – Clean Development Mechanisms, Renewable Energy Credits, Carbon Credits.... There have emerged a range of vehicles. Some of them are kosher. Some of them are ‘junk’. Some of them will blow up in their buyers’ faces when the environmental lobby ‘outs’ them. We know which is which.
We help companies plan their stakeholder engagement process.
We help their communications suppliers to put together the education platform for each stakeholder group.
We help the company start the journey confident that they are on the front foot.
 
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