Looking for positive and engaging directions
It's so exciting to see more and more companies taking responsibility, having really ambitious visions and continuously doing their utmost to create new innovations in terms of sustainability. Being in the automotive, we live and breathe sustainability at work, but how good are we actually in our private life?
What is our personal contribution towards bigger and faster sustainability results? Most of us can probably do more, but why is it so hard to make it happen? This is one question that we often end up deep-diving in, having a coffee break in the office. We obviously think this is an important discussion and asked our Sustainability Champion Linda Lindgren and CEO Per Sjöberg to share their view on the topic.
To really get the wheel of action spinning, everyone needs to take responsibility – multinational organizations, states, businesses and last, but not least, every single individual/consumer. All stakeholders highly affect each other – if consumers would only request sustainable products, businesses would not be able to sell anything else. At the same time, reputable businesses have a huge influence on trends and what consumers will desire in the future, so they should be looking for setting more responsible and sustainable trends. We believe that many industries outside automotive can learn a lot here and they have both money and reputation to earn if they do take a lead towards more sustainable ecosystems. However, even if the power of the industries is huge, to really make an impact on individual and consumer behavior, we believe that more and clearer guidance from states and authorities is the basis for a real change among us – the ‘ordinary people’.
Communication on sustainability should be made more accessible
As Sustainability Champion at Carco, Linda Lindgren spends a lot of time taking part of the latest research and trends. "There is so much research, articles, reports etc. available on sustainability – especially on climate change and global warming – but it is often quite heavy and depressing to digest for others than researchers and specialists and the focus is often on CO2 effects rather than proactive suggestions on what we can do to stop or slow down the negative development", Linda states and continues. "Also news feeds and social media constantly provides us with devastating facts on climate change, but very little on what can be done by each individual. Today it more or less presumes a certain interest for environmental issues to actually make yourself informed on the subject." "I think that communication on sustainability needs to be made more accessible, constructive, motivating and easier for individuals to understand and act on," Linda says. "I think that big improvements can be made if governments would start communicating clearly defined and motivating actions that each household in every country could take. The guidance needs to be customized depending on where on the globe you live, so it actually makes sense, but the actions suggested also need to be reasonable to implement and easy to comprehend for all people independently of age, educational level, profession etc. This is exactly what we try to capture in our working methods when guiding our partners," Linda concludes.
Research tells us that CO2 emissions must stop, or dramatically decrease, to stop the global warming. It is a fact that we already in 2017 reached about 1°C temperature increase compared to pre-industrial level. If the global warming continues with the same speed as today, we will reach an increase of 1.5 degree somewhere between 2030 and 2052. We must not forget that even if we manage the 1.5-degree target, there will still be consequences. Last week we could for example read an interview with ‘the Ice Maverick’ Jason Box, professor in glaciology, in the Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet. Jason Box has spent more than one year on Greenland exploring the melting speed of the Greenland ice sheet and has drawn dramatic conclusions. According to his research the Greenland ice sheet actually loses about 7 billion bathtubs of water every single day. This kind of, very important, messages are of course crucial to spread, but for ‘ordinary people’ it does not say so much about how we can contribute to stop this development.
We all need to see ourselves as leaders and influencers
Per Sjöberg, CEO at Carco, has a great interest for personal development and motivation triggers. He raises the question: "When reading these dramatic statistics, how do you feel – motivated to act or paralyzed because you simply do not know how you can make real impact and, even if you did, you have the feeling that your contribution does not really make a difference anyway? Neurosciences* is very clear on this – humans react negatively on the sense of fear or threat and lose the ability to act logically. Therefore, we cannot be driven to act positively by constant exposure of intimidating facts and doomsday rhetoric. Instead, we get motivated, proactive and engaged when feeling secure and part of a context and seeing how we can actually make a difference." He continues, "I think, to enable people to make good, climate friendly decisions in their daily life, messages and milestones from government and media must be smarter formulated, setting reachable goals and make people see what can be achieved if we all do our part and work collectively in the same direction. World leaders have a huge responsibility to make people want to contribute and to make it visible how every individual’s contribution actually matters. They should focus more on unifying people in this. At the same time, we all need to see ourselves as leaders and influencers and be good ambassadors in our own environment, talking with colleagues, our children, friends."
What would inspire you to do your utmost to contribute?
On any given day, people make about 35 000 decisions — big and small. If we would get relevant and concrete support to make better decisions for the climate every day, we are convinced that most of us would be more than willing to act more genuinely towards a joint goal. Let’s give you an example.
The Swedish authority MSB (myndigheten för samhällsskydd och beredskap) sent out a booklet in 2018 on the subject how to handle a societal crisis, war etc. This got a lot of attention in Sweden and basically everybody was taking about it. What if Swedish authorities would guide us similarly in terms of sustainability actions? Alternatively, and even better, what if there would be a reliable (digital?) tool available to analyze our own lifestyle and give proposals on the top five actions each person can take to make the biggest sustainability contribution? Wouldn't this kind of tool be the perfect area to make use of AI technology?! Starting on a low level with not so demanding efforts, slowly establishing a mindset, an awareness which elaborates and eventually ends up in massive positive effects.
Parent, entrepreneur, student, world leader – hopefully we all have the same goal to hand over a healthy planet to the next generation. So, what would inspire you to do your utmost to contribute to the huge joint assignment?
*Neuroscientists study the nervous system with focus on the brain and its impact on behavior and cognitive functions.