Sunday, 26 July 2009

Talking the talk or walking the walk?

Way back when I started blogging (nearly two years ago) I was trying to not use air travel to see how long I could last out before professional and personal constraints made me take a plane. I managed just over two years. Cyprus was the first time I flew, last October - train would have taken me 4 days each way - and then things go quite airborne and I flew to Manchester and Liverpool in the first half of this year - though I also travelled to Rome and Bremen twice each by train.
My friend Simon Oxley (who used to have season tickets for both Servette and Manchester City and you cannot do that without some VERY serious air travel) has written a good post about air travel which ends "After all, who is going to take any lectures about climate change from air travel junkies?"
I've been thinking recently about how it is what organisations actually do that is a key part of their communication and Simon's post fitted in well with such thoughts. Meanwhile a comment on Simon's blog makes this suggestion about environmental accounting:

There is a way to deal with this of course and it's called environmental accounting. We're all used to the time that gets taken up at meetings with finance reports and accounts, not to mention the auditors who are checking the accounts. It's all very important of course as finance is a bedrock for any organization, and all organizations have a responsibility to ensure the money they hold in trust for others is appropriately and correctly used. But why is not an appropriate amount of time spent by governing bodies in their environmental audit of organizations? It doesn't mean stopping all travel or meetings of course - despite qualifying in a quiz as a "nerd" I firmly believe face-to-face meetings offer something that virtual teleconferencing never can. But it does mean asking whether travel/meetings are appropriately and correctly used for the world that an organization holds in trust for others - as well as the other potential sources of environmental irresponsibility - then having a proper strategy to deal with offsetting unavoidable environmentally-unfriendly activities: not by asking participants to consider making a donation to an organization, but by building this into the accounts and strategy of the organization as a whole. Of course people will complain that money for their pet project is "wasted" on such measures, but in years to come if we get that far people will look back and ask who anyone could have been so naive. And there is an additional add on bonus, as a genuinely environmentally-audited organization is then in a much better place to advise governments and others what they should do.
So do you walk the walk or talk the talk? I really must buy the worms for the wormery and stop using the tumble drier. I must also try to stand up for a more accountable approach to climate change within the organisations I work for - churches are good at talking the talk on this issue. Are we really willing to walk the walk?