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COP17: Who Bears The Risks Associated With Climate Change?

by Bettina Tratz-Ryan  |  December 2, 2011  |  Comments Off on COP17: Who Bears The Risks Associated With Climate Change?

So, there is yet another meeting of global leaders discussing global climate change. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Cop 17, in Durban, South Africa, is expected to deliver the successor of the Kyoto Agreement, binding countries to commitments to reduce the impact of climate change. The challenges are gargantuan!!! We are talking here about a consensus that could… no, let me drive my point here: will impact our civilization and our social and economic well being… And though this sounds like we’re taking the moral high ground, let me quantify this issue in an IT and business value context for you. Driven by the dramatic after-effects of natural disasters, i.e. tsunamis in Japan, or the flooding in Thailand, such events have presented a huge business risk in the globalized business environment. Forge this with the ever increasing prices of energy and materials, your resource planning, as part of the operational cost assessment, needs to become not only an essential part of your KPIs, but need to be defined in your key risk indicators as well. Peter Sondergaard had concluded during Gartner’s ITExpo in Orlando in October 2011, (http://www.gartner.com/technology/research/symposium-keynotes/index.jsp) that risk management in the business context is the foundation of risk-adjusted value management. So going back to Cop 17, what is our business context here? And what is the business value?
The latest releases of the GHG emissions show that developing countries, with emerging market and economic growth, increased their emissions substantially. According to our research, (http://www.gartner.com/resId=1860415 ) emerging markets will represent nearly 31% of the global ICT spending for 2011. So, there is an opportunity for further investment in technologies and infrastructures that allows those regions to grow while applying sustainable business principles. This is of the utmost importance when you consider the limitations of an electricity grid, and the availability caps challenging “high energy-using enterprise structures” such as datacenters (http://www.gartner.com/resId=1853516). I have reason to believe that, either sooner or later, they will be “leapfrogging” technologies and business processes to their “cutting edge”. Could the Green Climate Fund be used to promote those future investors/investments into a new generation of business values that is “sustainably responsible”?
One fact remains clear: we are already living through the onset of global climate change and we need to pursue these matters, as governments, businesses, organizations, and citizens of the planet Earth, not only because it is the responsible thing to do, but also because we need to reduce our exposure to potential economic and demographic losses and higher costs. There is a strategic business value component when gene-splicing resource efficiency (Green IT) and environmental metrics into your corporate and operational DNA. However, sustainability, as part of a strategic business alignment, has to percolate through the “executive coffee urn” (management) and should be dispensed into “organizational coffee cups” (business lines)… And your name, your brand, your reputation??? The impact of “Generation Y”, who are growing up with a natural understanding of green issues, as consumers, users, investors, customers, partners or employees, they will hold your organization to it.
So while the members of COP17 meeting are debating about transparency and inclusion criteria for funding the Green Climate Fund and the scope of activities, our business risk exposure through climate change is going to increase.

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Bettina Tratz-Ryan
Research VP
14 years with Gartner
17 years in IT industry

Bettina Tratz-Ryan is a research vice president in Gartner Research, leading the research agenda for environmental sustainabity that is developing recommendations for technology and service vendors and software providers worldwide. Read Full Bio




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