- 25 Oct 2010 2:00 AM
This year Event Expo has chosen green practices as its theme. This has been reflected by the large number of exhibitors offering green products and services related to event management from paper furniture to recycled plastic cups.
The Embassy contributed with a presentation about carbon footprint measuring. In his presentation, Ambassador Dorey argued that not only do greener events spread environmentally responsible behaviour with a large number of people, but it also makes business sense. He invited the event management profession to use the carbon calculator developed specially for events with the Embassy's funding and available on the Internet. It is updated and managed by an expert NGO.
Greg Dorey's speech
"I promised in my opening remarks that I would tell you more about how the British Embassy in Budapest has embarked on greening its operations, including the events and functions we organise. But first let me say a few things about the "why"s.
As a diplomatic mission, the British Embassy in Budapest is tasked by the UK Government to promote international climate security as a key priority of British foreign policy. As a result I work intensively with politicians, academics, activists, and media on climate issue. And I feel that these conversations are more effective and my credibility is reinforced if I can show a personal commitment on green issues.
This is best demonstrated by the way in which the organisation I represent is working. I was joined in this task by a small team of enthusiastic colleagues who have implemented the first phase of greening our operations. It included a variety of no cost and low cost measures such as selective waste management, substituting air travel with videoconferencing, installing energy saving lighting, using tap water instead of bottled water, environmentally friendly office supplies (cleaning material, recycled paper) and walking or using public transport to meetings in the government district and in the central districts of Budapest.
In 2008 my Embassy's Green Team received an award for their achievement from the then Foreign Secretary, i.e. the British Foreign Minister.
We went one step further when we developed basic environmental principles to guide all our events and those of outside partners who hold events at the Embassy. These were intended to use the large number of events and functions we hold or host as a vehicle to demonstrate our commitment to sustainable operations toward the masses of guests who are attending these events. At the same time our environmental principles served to embed sustainable event culture with our partners who use our facilities. Most of these principles and practices are not novel to event organisers and venues who have a basic knowledge of sustainability issues and know what an environmental audit comprises.
What was new about this is that we wanted to produce a tool which helps us and others in establishing where we can save carbon-dioxide emissions as an intrinsic element of the process of preparing and running an event. As you may know CO2 is the gas that makes up the bulk of those greenhouse gases which we emit into the atmosphere, causing global warming.
Organisations need to base their decisions on measurable indicators. You need to understand something to be able to manage it and make informed choices. You need to know what is the carbon footprint of physical things and processes to be able to choose the more environmentally and climate friendly alternative. The carbon footprint is the total impact of all our things and activities on global warming.
Establishing the carbon footprint of a product or service is quite complex and further complicated if we take into account all the processes that feed into them. This requires meticulous measuring and the production of verified databases so much so that this has given rise to a whole new science called "life cycle analysis". Average organisations do not have the capacity for this or the necessary expertise to conduct such analysis. This is the bad news.
The good news is that we have a clever tool called the Carbon Calculator which can quantify the impact of almost anything on our Planet. And we contracted Energiaklub, a renowned specialist NGO, to develop a carbon calculator specifically tailored for events. It is available on the Internet at http://co2.energiaklub.hu/ and shows the "carbon" generated by the various activities related to an event. This ranges from use of paper or transportation to the heating of the venue and the type of dishes served. You will learn more about its use tomorrow directly from Energiaklub.
We hear a lot about the carbon footprint of flying and driving, but there is less attention paid to other activities and all the "stuff" we use, for example a cup of coffee or a cotton towel. If you would like to find out more, I recommend a very good book by Mike Berners-Lee called "How bad are bananas?; the carbon footprint of everything" that was published this year in the UK. This is possibly the first book that provides the facts needed for carbon conscious purchases and lifestyle changes. Amusing, but also deadly serious.
This seriousness is illustrated by the fact that, in 2008 in the UK we launched a carbon footprint standard. Called PAS 2050, it measures the Green House Gas emissions in goods and services throughout their entire life cycle, from sourcing raw materials, through to manufacture, distribution, use and disposal. The aim of the new standard is to help businesses move beyond managing the emissions their own processes create and to look at the opportunities for reducing emissions in the design, making and supplying of products.
High profile brands already happily associate with environmental causes and apply voluntary carbon labelling. I dare say that soon carbon labelling of products and services will be a universal practice, because market forces will make all players follow suit. Currently only about 1% of business use them, but opinion polls warn that over half of the customers say they want to see more. Early movers will benefit in terms of gaining market share and making money. This does not only apply to manufactured products. Services are catching up. In London and New York a restaurant chain provides carbon footprint information on its menu. UK speakers tomorrow will speak about green festivals in the UK. It is not sci-fi to envisage that carbon management will be part of everyday life in the future just as banking is today.
I would like to emphasise that green diplomacy is not the privilege of diplomatic missions. You all are in the business of green diplomacy. As I said in my opening remarks, the event management and catering industry conveys values and knowledge to a great number of customers through your own choices and practices. Your example can induce the much needed lifestyle changes by masses of people that climate scientists have been calling for. And all this is not simply about ethics and moral.
Going green makes serious business sense. Climate related goods and services have produced sensational growth over the past few years. Global revenues from climate-related businesses in 2008 reached USD 530 bn. The sector has surpassed the size of the global aerospace or defence industry. And those revenues are estimated to exceed USD 2 trillion by 2020. The green industry employs at least 3.4 million people in Europe. These remarkable figures include not just those who manufacture wind turbines or solar panels, but a whole range of ancillary or support industries.
The future of the event and catering industry is also both profitable and GREEN."
Source: British Embassy Budapest