Climate change summit – the sequel

2 December 2010
Lindsay Clark, international news editor, Supply ManagementThis week is Copenhagen II. This is a global climate change summit, without last year’s hype or caste of world leaders. If it were a movie it would be Grease II. This year’s collection of less influential officials, gathering in Cancun, Mexico is trying to come to some sort of agreement on establishing a practical political approach to combating global warming. Their likelihood of success decreases as the evidence that climate change is man-made, and very serious for our future, grows. Regardless of your personal views on climate change, it’s an important issue for business, as a senior vice-president at European mega distribution firm Norbert Dentressangle once advised me. The bulk of his industry, I learned, was struggling to get to grips with the issue. Meanwhile procurement seems to be the way forward. Nils Clement, Starbucks procurement director, EMEA, told me that he sees procurement as at the centre of business initiatives to account for carbon emissions and reduce them. His argument boils down to the fact that procurement can see what your company buys, and, if it is at all business-aware, should know what it sells. One company’s waste can be another company’s raw material or energy. To take this a step further, if we get into carbon accounting, or cap and trade, should procurement be in charge of that project? Is an expensive piece of equipment, built near to home, better value than a cheap one built far away, if it takes less carbon to build and produces less in its lifetime? On the other hand this could all be a poisoned chalice. If Jeremy Clarkson is right and man-made climate change is hogwash, then any procurement leader taking up the climate challenge could have a career-destroying millstone around his or her neck. Answers on a recycled postcard please.
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