Drivers of Sustainability – 2. Environmental constraints


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EarthPlanetary constraints more visible

Due to the massive expansion in population and associated demand, the planet’s ability to support an ever growing population is under growing pressure and is potentially unsustainable.

Finite Resources

Growth in global population and consumption since the industrial revolution has led to a position where the new demands for resources for many commodities, such as oil and phosphates is starting to outstrip supply.  In addition to raw materials and energy, many other natural resources are coming under increasing pressure as supply struggles to keep pace with demand.

Examples include: regular water scarcity in many parts of the world, a decline in agricultural land and a loss of biodiversity including regular extinction of species.  This demand for resources has resulted in massive price volatility of many commodities and even obtaining access to some key raw materials, e.g. rare earths has been a constraint for some industry sectors.

Climate Change

In October 2013 the UN body, the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Environmental Constraintshas stated that changes in the Earth’s Climate is being accelerated by man’s consumption of fossil fuels and the emission of greenhouse gases (GHG).  Governments are legislating to mitigate the negative risks of the impact of these changes.  Many counties are seeking to reduce their dependence on carbon based energy generation through the adoption of renewable energy.  The UK Government is taking a leading role in this transition to a low carbon economy.

Faced with growing legislation, rising fossil fuel costs and risks to their energy security, leading businesses, especially those operating in multiple geographies are looking to measure, report, and optimise their consumption of energy and with it to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases.

All of these factors are becoming widely discussed and it is clear that, due to the expansion in population and associated demand, we are beginning to reach the carrying capacity of the planet.  Growing public realisation of these challenges is creating a final megatrend – the pace and pressure of social change that is creating rising stakeholder expectations of good business conduct and reponsibility.

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