Durban, South Africa: Why COP17

Today, 28-November, is the kickoff of the Durban (South Africa) UN Climate Change Conference  – COP17.

Does COP17 matter?  Is it relevant?

Not one, but two EarthPM connections to this conference made us curious.

First, we were lucky enough to be the keynote speaker at PMSA’s Good in Green conference there back in late Septenber.  Second, the GreenBiz author of a recent post, Heather King, sat down with us last summer to discuss all sorts of green business issues as they pertain to project management.  Heather posted this article which provides 4 compelling reasons why COP17 does matter.

We’d like to draw our readers’ attention to reason number 4:

4. Business leaders are increasingly involved — across sectors and continents.

Industry leaders are increasingly involved in the COP talks. As clean energy deployments in over 80 countries have skyrocketed, clean energy suppliers and adopters need assurance that governments will support this market.

In addition, COP 17 will work to establish a technology center that will serve as a hub for leveraging and deploying climate monitoring, management and adaptation solutions in different countries. This will require significant collaboration with technology and information industry leaders.

Two significant business events in Durban that are concurrent with COP 17 intend to elevate the voice and influence of industry at the talks:

• The World Climate Summit. This organization will host its second event on December 3 — 4th with leaders from Ernst and Young, PWC, Coca Cola, Phillips.

• Business for the Environment (B4E). B4E is gathering leaders from Tata Steel, Bank of America, HP and others on December 6 to discuss a clean industrial revolution.

So…that’s reason number 4.  If you’re interested in Heather’s other three reasons, click here.  We assert that reason number 4 alone is enough to get the Project Managers of the world interested.  We’re talking about “skyrocketing” clean energy deployments.  Translation: projects.  So at a minimum, become conversant in this practice area, improving your ability to be gainfully employed as a productive project manager!

Working together – saving tomorrow today.  That’s the theme of COP17.  If you want to find out more about the conference, here is the link to COP17.


The sky is not falling. But…

We focus on projects, project management, the connection between sustainability and project management, projects, and most importantly, YOU – the project manager.

That focus includes ecological but also economic and social continuity and success – in other words, running projects that consider the long term effects of the project’s product on the enterprise financially, for its employees and customers, and for the long-term health of the planet.

We are not tree-huggers, even though the picture on the cover of our award-winning book is of a tree.

But some of our rationale for taking on our work is rooted (pun intended) in caring for our home – Earth.

And we know that there are many of you out there who are justifiably skeptics – even cynics, and deniers, when it comes to climate change.  That’s fine with us.  We are left-brained, engineer/scientist types and we like that type of questioning.  It’s what keeps innovation going.

Still, we think it’s important to keep the project managers out there up-t0-date with news and recent findings with respect to climate change.

The most recent news, unfortunately, isn’t good.  It’s downright scary.

In this article, based on findings from the UN (I can almost hear the groan from some of you, but that’s okay, too), indicates that “heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are building up so high, so fast, that some scientists now think the world can no longer limit global warming to the level world leaders have agreed upon as safe”.

And in this story, World Meteorological Deputy Secretary-General Jeremiah Lengoasa said,  “With this picture in mind, even if emissions were stopped overnight globally, the atmospheric concentrations would continue for decades because of the long lifetime of these greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.”.

Part of our job as project managers is to “promote” data up the hierarchy of the DIKW Pyramid to knowledge.  In other words, we, as project managers are often the ones who integrate disparate and apparently random factoids and turn that into wisdom which can be used, if we do it right, for the current project and projects of the future as well.  Think “lessons learned” here, people.  And, oh by the way, it may be ourselves managing those future projects, so the collection and spreading of wisdom may turn out to benefit and sustain us, as well as project sponsors and stakeholders.  With that in mind, it’s to our advantage to understand what facts are being discovered about climate change.
And here are some findings from this most recent research:
  • total carbon dioxide levels in 2010 hit 389 parts per million, up from 280 parts per million in 1750, before the start of the Industrial Revolution. Levels increased 1.5 ppm per year in the 1990s and 2.0 per year in the first decade of this century, and are now rising at a rate of 2.3 per year. The top two other greenhouse gases — methane and nitrous oxide — are also soaring.
  • The findings from the U.N. World Meteorological Organization are consistent with other grim reports issued recently. Earlier this month, figures from the U.S. Department of Energy showed that global carbon dioxide emissions in 2010 jumped by the highest one-year amount ever.
  • Temperatures have already risen about 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit (0.8 degrees Celsius) since pre-industrial times.
  • Since 1990 — a year that international climate negotiators have set as a benchmark for emissions — the total heat-trapping force from all the major greenhouse gases has increased by 29 percent, according to NOAA.

Here’s a tip for you.

Next week, in Durban, South Africa, COP17 will take place.  You don’t need to be an activist to be informed.  Stay informed.  Understand the language.  Be conversant.  Know what this may mean to your projects and to you, even if you are a skeptic, cynic, or denier.  That’s going to help your OWN sustainability.  If indeed you are interested and curious, then even more so, you may want to stay tuned to what comes from Durban next week.

Our book has tips on how you can bring these facts to bear on your projects.

No, the sky isn’t falling.  But “the sky” is over, under, around, and inside your project.  So you should know about how it affects your project and its project – and vice-verse.