5 ways to turn the sport fan in your workplace into a sustainability champion

BT has launched its 100% Sport campaign with sailor Ben Ainslie

BT has launched its 100% Sport campaign with sailor Ben Ainslie

Last week, BT got together with sports industry and sustainability experts from around the world to find ways to tap into the power of sports fans to tackle climate change. It followed the launch of 100% Sport, a BT campaign launched last month with sailing champion Sir Ben Ainslie to inspire sports fans to adopt renewable energies.

“With 600 million people following the Liverpool football club, what if 10 per cent of them switched to a renewable energy provider? The power of these fans and the numbers can be truly transformational”, Niall Dunne, chief sustainability officer at BT, said.

In a poll taken during the meeting, more than half (55 per cent) of those present online and offline agreed sports fans and team mates were the best way to influence others to take action on climate change.

So here are five ways you can engage the sport fan in your workplace to become a sustainability champion:

1. Take a survey – surveying your staff is great first step to unlocking the talent within your organisation to make change happen. Planet First’s ‘Sustainability Engagement Survey’ can help you find the ‘positive greens’ within your organisation. But remember to also ask them what sport team they follow and what their favourite sport is.

2. Make a pledge – sport is a great activity around which to launch a pledging campaign for a sustainable initiative. Do Nation, a Planet First partner, offers an online pledging app to enable individuals or organisations to do this. Last month, for example, Mike Forde, used Do Nation and ran the Inverness marathon to raise pledges from friends and family to make sustainable changes in their lives. The pledges he raised equated to 323 kg CO2 saved in just two months.

3. Work in the community – explore how you and your staff could lend a hand to do something positive for your local sports club. Local councils demand that sports clubs get involved in their local communities, so they’ll probably bite your hand off if you get in touch and offer your services. Sutton Football Club, for example, got its fans to clean up the areas around the club’s football ground. Since the clean-up, the areas have been revamped into new football training grounds for the local community.

4. Reward positive action – make it worthwhile for those sports fans in your organisation who want to do something positive. In return for taking action on climate change, reward them with a ticket to see their favourite team play, for example. At Planet First, we offer all Planet Mark-certified organisations tickets to visit our partner Eden Project, which they can use as rewards for their members of staff.

5. Get in touchPlanet First is a sustainability engagement specialist. We can help you make your engagement programme really take off. We’d love to hear from you, so get in touch!

You can find out more about BT’s 100% Sport campaign on the BT website.


What would a carbon tax mean for business and consumer?

When the world finally agrees to constrain the fossil fuel coming out of the ground, one result will be a price on carbon. Whether this comes about through a universal carbon tax or through a global carbon cap and trade system, the effect will be an additional cost that will be passed up the supply chains of all goods and services and reflected in the purchasers’ price.

So let’s have a look at what a price of $100 per tonne of carbon dioxide might mean for both consumers and businesses. We can argue about the exact carbon price the world needs in order for enough fuel to stay in the ground, but $100 (£65) is probably in the right ballpark; even though this is somewhat higher than most businesses are currently contemplating.

A carbon tax will add a small cost onto potatoes

A carbon tax will add a small cost onto potatoes

Cheap spuds, pricey asparagus

Based on a decade or so of analysing the carbon footprint of products and business supply chains, here are some rough estimates of how some specific prices might change in response. A kilo of local seasonal vegetables might incur a price rise of around 4p whereas the same weight of asparagus, air-freighted out of season from Peru, would be more likely to go up by about £1.

Meanwhile the cost of a small petrol car might go up by around £500 while a heavy four-wheel drive would end up rising in price by £2,500. And the cost of the fuel to drive them would probably go up by about 22p per litre (once you take account of both the direct emissions from burning it and those from taking it out of the ground, refining it and transporting it to the pump). I estimate that a laptop might cost between £10 and £60 more, depending on its features and the carbon efficiency of the manufacturing supply chains.

All these costs are significant and provide incentives for low carbon choices without absolutely precluding high carbon habits. Since, in round numbers, the carbon footprint of the average UK person is about 10 tonnes per year, the carbon price would track through to about $1,000 (£650) of additional costs per year on average (for simplicity I’ve left out the other greenhouse gases and only include carbon dioxide). But the effect on each of us would depend on our own buying choices.

Before assuming that everyone will be worse off, remember that the £100 billion or so revenue from a $100 carbon price would be about enough to enable a cut in the basic rate of VAT from 20 per cent to the EU legal minimum of 15 per cent. And if that were done, the carbon price could, overall, enable a hefty rise in standard of living for anyone prepared to follow the new price signals guiding them towards a more sustainable lifestyle.

Impact on business

Turning to the effect on businesses, while fossil fuel companies have long been keenly aware of the commercial threat from a global move to leave the fuel in the ground, companies that want to get more use from less carbon will see huge opportunities. Within any competitive market for a product or service, those with the cleanest supply chains will also have the advantage.

Since it typically takes a few years for a business to clean up its supply chains, if the carbon price is coming, it might be commercially smart to start the clean up now. This is probably why the CDP (formally Carbon Disclosure Project) supply chain membership forum is experiencing such rapid growth.

To give one example of how supply chains might change, a few years ago my company did a study for a

Timber framed buildings would be less expensive with a carbon tax

Timber framed buildings would be less expensive with a carbon tax

house builder, looking at the carbon and energy footprint of different construction types to understand what proportion of the build cost could be tracked back to energy in the supply chains. At that time, energy accounted for just 13 per cent

of the build cost and since a timber frame (which has a lower carbon intensity) was slightly more expensive than bricks and blocks it didn’t make straightforward financial sense to switch across. The introduction of a carbon price changes the whole equation.

Winners and losers

A carbon price will make it automatic for shoppers to factor the carbon into their buying choices, without having to be knowledgeable about the mysterious world of carbon footprints. High carbon choices will still be possible for us all but we will have to want them more.

Most of us should be able to feel better off provided governments recycle the revenue from carbon taxes in ways that counterbalance the cost burdens for the person on the street, and provided we allow the new pricing to guide us gently towards to lower carbon habits.

For business, the winners will be those whose products enable more utility for less carbon and those who take action ahead of time to sort out their supply chains. This includes all businesses that deliver efficiency and innovation and those whose business models allow for longevity of products.

When it comes to like-for-like products, those with the cleanest supply chains will have the edge – so if you think that world might be coming soon, right now would be very good time to take action.

This post has been published under licence from Guardian Sustainable Business, of which GreenWise is an editorial partner.