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Social Footprint Tackles Global Warming

Submitted by: Center for Sustainable Organizations

Categories: Environment

Posted: Aug 14, 2006 – 11:50 AM EST


Aug. 14 /CSRwire/ - August 14, 2006 (Thetford Center, VT) - The Center for Sustainable Innovation (CSI) released a report today in which a new application of its Social Footprint method for calculating corporate social bottom lines was announced, this time for global warming. The report includes six detailed examples of global warming bottom lines calculated for BT, BP, Shell, Johnson & Johnson, United Technologies Corporation, and an anonymous university. Only half of them scored sustainably.

Unlike other corporate global warming reporting tools, the Social Footprint's treatment of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by organizations is deeply rooted in the science of climatology. Of particular significance is its use of a scientific forecast that shows how carbon emissions, in particular, must be curtailed in the years ahead if humanity is to have a chance of reversing the current trend.

Thus, each example featured in today's report compares actual organizational emissions of carbon between the years 2001 and 2005 with what such emissions would have to be in order to reverse global warming and stabilize CO2 concentrations in the earth's atmosphere. Only organizations that emit carbon within those limits can score sustainably under CSI's approach. Free downloadable copies of the report can be found at CSI's home page, at a link entitled Global Warming and the Social Footprint.

This distinctive, yet simple, approach to sustainability measurement and reporting is markedly different from other competing approaches, especially those that rely on econometric or even ecological criteria. It differs from pure ecological models in the sense that it focuses not just on ecological thresholds per se, but also on the social question of whether an organization's contributions to mitigating climate change are proportionately sustainable relative to some collective plan of action.

Interestingly, the report issued today shows that even large multi-national corporations can score sustainably when measured against a social standard for achieving ecological ends, despite the fact that their current ecological footprints might be unsustainable. To say that an organization's operations are ecologically unsustainable tells us nothing about what they may or may not be doing to address the problem. Many companies, in fact, are taking steps to reduce their carbon emissions at a pace consistent with scientifically-grounded plans to reverse global warming. The Social Footprint gives visibility to those efforts.

Indeed, CSI's Executive Director, Mark W. McElroy, had this to say about today's announcement: "This report shows that the Social Footprint has a mainstream role to play in the current global effort to mitigate greenhouse gases. What it shows us is that even companies who may be scoring unsustainably in an ecological sense can score sustainably in a social sense, both relative to global warming. As long as a company is taking steps to reduce emissions in accordance with a global mitigation plan, their social bottom line can be cast accordingly. The Social Footprint allows us to do this for the very first time in a powerful new way."

About Center for Sustainable Innovation

The Center for Sustainable Innovation is a Vermont non-profit corporation located in Thetford Center, Vermont. It was founded in 2004 with a vision of working for sustainability, both within and by means of innovation. Most of CSI's current efforts are being applied to the development of the Social Footprint method, a joint project between CSI and the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. CSI's founder and Executive Director, Mark W. McElroy, can be reached at mmcelroy@vermontel.net. More information about CSI, including its Social Footprint Masterclass, can be found at its website at: www.sustainableinnovation.org.

For more information, please contact:

Mark W. McElroy Executive Director

For more from this organization:

Center for Sustainable Organizations


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