At almost every turn during my visit to the UK this month, I observed a significant change from my visit four years ago in the number of initiatives all meant to positively impact the environment. It began with my flight which served its meals with wooden cutlery; my hotel key was also made of wood with its ‘magnetised’ QR code holding up throughout the stay. Apart from the cashless/ paperless commute, additional eco-conscious innovations continued to catch my attention. The event’s famous “Strawberries and Cream”, and other meals, were now served in biodegradable cartons and wooden cutlery. Elsewhere in London, and the other towns I visited, convenient and reliable technology existed unobtrusively at every turn.
It is my understanding that much of the above has been largely influenced by the variable penalties and reliefs as detailed in the British Government’s business-oriented “Environmental Tax Schedule” (easily available online and includes details on its Climate Change Levy; CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme; Emissions trading; Capital allowances on energy-efficient items; Landfill Tax; Aggregates Levy). Indeed, the British Government has ambitiously commenced over the past year a global “Clean Green Initiative” and, with India, a more region-specific “Clean Grids Initiative”.
The purpose of this article, however, is not to speculate on the motives of the British, but to highlight that industrialised countries are no longer just talking but, indeed, are applying in various ways, an increasing number of committed practices and policies at state, corporate and private levels.
As an island in a region now confirmed as being subject to several of the consequences of global climate change (eg rising sea levels, increased storm activity, positive median temperature change), an urgent focus regarding our present social and corporate practices should now be mandatory. With the world gradually weaning itself off petrochemicals – our dominant national foreign exchange earner – where do we presently stand in the face of this reality regarding the necessary re-definition of our future? Where do we presently want to be? And what are each of us doing about it? As identified earlier, the level of engagement required and presently being performed elsewhere is all-encompassing.
Locally, a mosaic of tax credits on solar panel purchases (for water heating only); tax relief for electric car purchases, and the introduction of reusable grocery bags by at least one major chain are perhaps the three initiatives
that have attracted the most buzz but do any of these initiatives, however commendable, speak to the granular level necessary to effect actual carbon-footprint (and general pollution) reduction? Today, any casual drive along any of our highways provides an unending vista of litter and pieces of vehicular wreckage. Such a visceral national attitude — almost wilfully contrary to global practices and systems for this most basic aspect of civilisation is certainly disturbing and surely augers poorly regarding the tourism product we wish to present to the world.
Speaking to solutions, the following best-practices come easily to mind: (i) A bi-partisan “National Environmental Plan” to be directed to all corporate and state entities, and to the wider population detailing individual responsibilities and expected standards; (ii) Personal Change – take the time to audit your personal practices regarding general consumption practices, your recycling and re-using efforts, disposal practices and A/C monoxide emission volumes.
Human Resource Professionals, many of whom already oversee/lead the health, safety and environmental functions of their organisations, are best placed to source, develop, implement and advocate best-practice policies and practices in the workplace.
Such initiatives may well impact employees to continue to apply various recommended acts of conservatism to their homes.
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