Why Exemplars & Agency are Key to Sustainability

Market research indicates a huge majority of decision makers are concerned about the impacts of climate change, but are less confident about their actual carbon reduction plans….

There’s a cartoon I’ve seen a number of times on social media contrasting the huge number of people voting FOR change with the lack of people actually willing TO change.  The fact is that while we are very adaptable as a species, this is most often as a response to some external factor or crisis rather than a spontaneous evolution.

There are multiple blockers to change, some of which we identify below, but many of us have an instinctive objection along the lines of “not me”, “not that” or “not just now” which must be overcome.  When faced with something that the majority recognise as an existential crisis (such as war, famine, pandemic, fire or flood) our behaviours are much quicker to adapt.

The problem we face is that while the climate emergency is now mostly accepted as a genuine existential threat, it has a very different priority level currently depending on your location, prosperity, industry and security (in its widest context).

Our view on what we should do is affected by our “investments”, legacy, perceived responsibilities and, perhaps most importantly, our world view.

In figure 1 below we’ve set out the factors that typically block individuals and organisations from taking actual steps to minimise their climate impact, together with their typical impacts. 

In figure 2 we look at how these “blockers” can be reversed, using exemplars to demonstrate and build confidence in what is possible and establishing “agency” at all levels to encourage genuine momentum for change.

This is one of the reasons we invest so much of our time in working with major technology customers.  They have the reach, the funds and the customers to encourage and celebrate exemplars.  They have the profile to establish confidence in agency and the potential for change. They may even act as exemplars themselves, given ongoing investments in sustainable energy and improvements in reporting and transparency.

There are many changes we can promote to improve sustainability.  We can retain our devices for longer, use more energy-efficient devices and cloud services, repurpose more and discard less, travel less, store less and share much more efficiently.

This does not require expensive investments, increased complexity or reduced user experience.  Quite the opposite – sustainable IT can cut complexity, costs and carbon emissions.  So why wouldn’t every organisation consider sustainability as a key factor in their selection criteria?

From our perspective we have a deep respect for using science to drive better information, strategies, decisions and outcomes.  We believe that if organisations are given better data they will naturally make better decisions.  That’s why we build the toolsets, calculators and models.  It’s also why we make some of them are available free of charge to public sector and not-for-profit organisations.   

Ultimately, we believe that the blockers in fig 1 can (and must) be replaced with enablers in fig 2.For more information on how Px3 can help build agency and drive change please contact us to discuss.

About the Author: Ewen Anderson BSc, MMS (Dip), CIO @ Px3

Ewen is CIO of Px3, a company on a mission to help organisations balance people, planet and productivity by promoting sustainable IT strategies.  Px3 has set itself the goal of removing the CO2 emissions equivalent of 100,000 cars from our atmosphere by 2050. With a background in psychology, management services, consultancy and enterprise IT, Ewen is a passionate believer that the right technology used in the right way can significantly reduce environmental impacts, engage users and improve productivity.

Ewen (LinkedIn Profile) can be contacted at ewen@px3.org.uk

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.