Living up to expectations

As the year end approaches we are now all looking to 2013 in anticipation, but first let's look back over 2012 and ask ourselves has the drive in sustainability met expectations?

Living up to expectations

Pressure from the public and the media has pulsated through the corporate world this year as businesses continued to set higher, more ambitious sustainability targets on the back of increasing awareness and coverage.

With a stronger understanding that consumers are more inclined to make sustainable purchasing decisions and the fact that energy and resource efficiency is becoming essential to the future of a business, corporations have come on leaps and bounds in their journey’s to a more sustainable future.   

Just look at our capital city for example - with all eyes on London this year for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games, pressure was higher than ever as the city made a commitment to deliver a truly sustainable Games.

The likes of Jessica Ennis and Mo Farah were not the only ones feeling the pressure from the British public, the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games’ (LOCOG) sustainability team had a big task of making this year’s games the most sustainable yet.

But how did our capital city fare against the expectations of the people?

Attending the post-games sustainability briefing last week, it was clear that meeting environmental expectations was a priority from the moment London won the bid in 2005.

The task was particularly difficult as the team didn't know what the impact of the games would be because “nobody had ever measured it before”.

Despite this, London 2012 was a great success economically and in many ways achieved what it had set out to do – to become the most sustainable games to date.

In addition to avoiding 400,000 tons of CO2 emissions, the games also achieved 100% waste diverted from landfill. Other accomplishments included a drive in sustainable forms of transport such as cycling and walking.

But one of the main focuses for the sustainability team was legacy and encouraging behavioural change that will “leave a strong, sustainable legacy for London and the UK”.

Forward thinking is the name of the game when it comes to sustainability. Like a pet isn’t just for Christmas, sustainability is not just a fad during a major sporting event, as the sustainability team rightfully ensured that the successful drive stayed within the minds of those living and working in the area to people watching around the world.

Commenting on the success of the games in terms of its environmental impact, London 2012 sustainability ambassador, Jonathon Porritt, said in the final report: “For us, as sustainability ambassadors, that “afterglow” was strongly influenced by the sure knowledge that we all felt very comfortable talking about the 2012 Games as “the most sustainable Olympics and Paralympics of the modern era” – one must assume that all those naked Greeks really would have had a lower carbon footprint!”.

Hopefully the games will accomplish what it set out to do and stir up some much needed support for the ageing term, sustainability.

The success of the games will hopefully spark enthusiasm throughout the UK, with people, businesses and the Government alike working together, rather than wasting time by disputing what needs to be done and by when.

Several controversial reports came out this year suggesting that even with current climate targets, temperatures could still rise by 4°C by 2100 - with another predicting a 6°C increase.  

As many know, there is a lot more work that needs to be done and 2013 will be an interesting year for sustainability as the Government introduces new regulations, such as carbon reporting.

Predicting the future is a difficult task but what we can all be sure of is that whether it’s two, four or six degrees, more must be done to ensure a sustainable future. And with the hype of London 2012 behind us it will be interesting to see if we rise to the challenge.

Leigh Stringer

Topics: Energy efficiency & low-carbon
Tags: | CO2 | Cycling | LOCOG | Olympic | transport
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