Prince Charles and abating climate change: the weekly Verdigris blog

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Laurel Brunner

Written on 27/07/2015 | Posted 2 years 6 months 25 days ago

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In this week's blog, Laurel Brunner shares her inimitable take on the businesses addressing climate change and the majestic ears of HRH Prince Charles.

When you ask people if they think it is important to tackle climate change, most agree that it is. If you then ask them who should be responsible for fixing our environmental mess, you can expect a general railing against big businesses in league with evil politicians who care only about staying in power. This is a convenient cliché endemic across all sectors of society and industry, including printing and publishing. However, we and the environment are not suffering because of conniving powerful entities and a lack of initiative rather, it's the opposite. There are huge numbers of organisations setting up environmental projects looking for hope and glory and that their efforts will slow malign climate change's progress.

What is needed is more effective local approaches focusing on recycling initiatives, process control, automation and waste management. Many printers are already getting this message and finding that more efficient business management will also deliver a boost to their bottom lines. But we need to do much more, which is where Prince Charles comes in.

Prince Charles – he of the impressive ears and first in line for the British throne – recently presented the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership's (CISL) ten-year plan. There should be a joke here about the impressive ears listening impressively, but Prince Charles was being more oral than aural when presenting the CISL's ten tasks. If organisations large and small can achieve the ten tasks it might set a better environmental framework for citizens and economies.

The ten tasks are the local message writ large.Some of the advice is common sense, for instance: measure the right things and set the right targets. In a graphics workflow that might mean measuring how many sheets an offset press takes to come up to colour and trying to reduce that waste by say 5 percent over a year.

Some of the tasks are trickier. For instance: how do you 'use fiscal policy to correct externalities'? This sounds like a recommendation to fiddle the books but it actually means taking into account risks to a business of market failures caused by climate change events, or the rates at which vital resources are being depleted. The task is to encourage accountants to use more Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) reporting to account for natural capital as well as the conventional sort. The overall message is that businesses, politicians and citizens should be engaged and aware, and that we should all be building structures that support environmentally friendly socio-economic models.

A key task in Prince Charles' list is that organisations should 'harness communication for positive change' and this is something all printing and publishing companies can do, and indeed excel at. It's time to shift the tone of green conversations away from clichés and to take responsibility through action.

This article is part of the Verdigris series of blogs about understanding the environmental impact of print. The Verdigris project is supported by Agfa Graphics, Digital Dots, EFI FESPA, HP, Heidelberg, Kodak, Ricoh, Pragati Offset, Shimizu Printing, Splash PR, Unity Publishing and Xeikon. Output is a proud publishing partner of the Verdigris project, which is led by its expert contributor Laurel Brunner.

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