Archive for the ‘climate change research’ Tag

My current climate change reading

I have been writing some short entries on my LinkedIn page recently. I thought it might be worth adding them to this blog.

  1. One of the issues with climate change is that we are finding that the estimates of, say, the rate of glacier melt, ice sheet loss, etc. is greater than we anticipated. This gives deniers the opportunity to say that the science is wrong. Why do scientists get the estimates wrong? A recent scientific American blog (https://lnkd.in/eP4k_k8) offers an insight into this. In a nutshell, there are different groups working on the estimates. “Consider a case in which most scientists think that the correct answer to a question is in the range 1–10, but some believe that it could be as high as 100. In such a case, everyone will agree that it is at least 1–10, but not everyone will agree that it could be as high as 100. Therefore, the area of agreement is 1–10, and this is reported as the consensus view.” The consequence is that if the few researchers estimating on or near to 100 are actually correct, their estimates are not reported. Instead, the consensus view is taken as a correct estimate rather than one that itself is subject to some error and judgement rather than as fact. Scientists make judgements on the basis of data; some may feel, understandably, that there are insufficient data to shorten the estimates. Essentially more work is needed. In the meantime, the ice melts.
  2. Furrer et al Business & Society (2012) 51(1). surveyed banks to investigate the concept of decoupling, the process by which firms enact policy relating to a theme or topic, but do not sufficiently integrate it into the core business, such that it is rendered non-strategic. The identify three types of bank in the context of climate change – hesitators (they have a policy but do not do much beyond buying electricity on a green tarrif, but are the majority); Product Innovators (products are linked to environmental impact of investments, but are not linked into the value creation of the bank); Process Developers (have created inimitable climate-sensitive processes and products that potentially give competitive advantage, but still insufficiently developed in the value creating activities of the bank), Forerunners (integration of climate-sensitive products into the banks’s value-creation processes). Interestingly forerunners are the bigger global banks. There does not seem, in any statistically significant way, to be a link between local environmental imperatives and flexibility in the banks’ policies, suggesting that all policy is set centrally, probably globally. This might explain why European banks may not sell services around emissions trading for their clients.
  3. Böhm, Misoczky and Moog (2012) Organization Studies, 33(11) have another look at carbon markets. As suggested in earlier posts, carbon trading was pushed in Europe by the British partly because of a distinct possibility that some firms, like airlines, could make money out of the trading process. Böhm et al consider emissions trading between members of economic blocs (the EU) and between nations of the North and South both (the formal Clean Development Mechanism and the informal Voluntary Offset Market). Their conclusion – in line with the work of Newell and Paterson (2010) – all of these initiatives constitute climate capitalism which enables firms and elites further to accumulate, find new markets and exploit the poor (polluting, land accumulation, etc.). They are badly – or corruptly – regulated and are manifested in, often, unrecognisably-green large capital projects. Essentially, emissions trading is not a viable regulator of carbon production in its current form. The question is, can it be reformed or is Green Capitalism an oxymoron?
  4. Continuing on my informal literature review on business management and sustainability, yesterday I read a couple of papers. The first by Natalie Slawinski and Pratima Bansal, “A matter of time: the temporal perspectives of organizational responses to climate change”, Organization Studies (2012) 33:11 makes the following point: firms can be classified as short-term or long-term. Short-termers are firms that invest in and utilise technology towards reducing environmental impact such as carbon capture, with a view to reducing costs. Long-termers are not so good with the technology, but are more holistic, invest in alternative sources of energy, where cost reduction is not the primary objective. Neither is better than the other, necessarily. The second paper from the same journal, volume and issue, Gareth Veal and Stefanos Mouzas, “Market-based responses to climate change: C02 Market design versus operation” discusses carbon trading as a mechanism for reducing carbon emissions using the European Emissions Trading Scheme as a study. There is a lot of discussion about whether commodifying carbon is a good mechanism. I did learn that in the mid 80s when the UK held the EU presidency, it led on devising and implementing this scheme and ensured that European airlines were subject to it.
  5. Today I’ve read research by Lesrud and Meyer (2012) in framing climate change. Their empirical work involved surveying professional stakeholders in Alberta’s shale oil and tar sands industries. Not surprising there is some scepticism about human-generated climate change. What I did not know was that Canada withdrew from the Kyoto protocol in order to exploit these carbon-intensive resources.
  6. I’ve just been through the 14 most recent volumes of Strategic Management Journal and found not a single article on climate change. There are a few articles discussing CSR and stakeholder perspectives, but these are not focused on climate change; rather shareholder value.