Why green issues matter for your business
USUALLY I write in this column about tech sector issues. But this month I'm going to talk about climate change.
Perhaps more accurately, I'm going to focus on climate change, but inevitably, given that climate change is a matter which touches on just about every aspect of our lives, and so is technology, tech will also come into it.
And I recognise that it's perhaps not that unexpected any more for a business person to talk about climate change in the era of ‘responsible capitalism'. Indeed, during my entire time with Novosco, we've tried to be a purpose-led organisation. We maybe didn't articulate it that way in the past, but it has always been part of our DNA.
We've always recognised that we have a role beyond just making money; we're about improving people's lives through the solutions we implement in areas including health and social care, as well as our other actions. And more and more, the tech sector and wider business community is recognising and playing its role in helping deal with climate change.
But more needs to be done across society.
In recent months, we've been, rightly, so focused on Covid-19 that climate change has slipped down the agenda from being front and centre in 2019 and at the beginning of this year. Ironically during the time when climate change has been in the news agenda less, we have seen a huge shift that has benefited the planet, with fewer planes in the sky, fewer cars on the road, and less activity in other areas of our economy.
But we need to make absolutely sure, as we move into the economic recovery and rebuilding phase, that we put mitigating climate change firmly back on the agenda.
Covid-19 has been a huge challenge for society which so many people have responded very positively to. But climate change is an even bigger challenge waiting in the wings. We need to respond even more positively and collaboratively to this challenge.
All of us have our part to play in bringing about the necessary change to deal with the problem. For businesses, this probably means some element of working from home long-term for their team and less travelling to meetings, investment in more energy efficient equipment, and more sustainable sourcing. For consumers, it probably means more sustainable transport choices and purchasing behaviour, and for government it means more innovative and bold policy-making.
Whoever is responsible for electric vehicle charging points also needs to bring about a step-change in this area too - and I say this as an exasperated electric vehicle driver. I also think we should make it mandatory for every new building to have solar roofs.
Back to the tech sector.
We know that tech helps other sectors be more sustainable, and not just by helping make work-related transport less necessary through things like Microsoft Teams. Take renewables, for example. With intermittent supply, we need a smart grid to balance that supply with the demand for energy. Connected technologies make this possible.
The same is true of transport. Research shows connected technologies could take tens of millions of cars off the road by 2025. Technology will make electric and autonomous vehicles the norm, reducing air pollution, as well as making our road safer, and saving lives.
But we need even more innovation and investment to turbo charge this trend. And to get there, we need climate change firmly back on everyone's agenda, now.
:: Patrick McAliskey is co-founder of Novosco, which employs around 300 people, mostly in Belfast, and was acquired last year by Cancom in Munich