I attended the Climate Champion Programme at the Europe Regional Climate Centre and rate the experience as one of the best I can recall.
The whole two weeks taught me a huge amount more on the science behind climate change and really opened my eyes to the real difference than can be made by a few people standing together.
During my time there, I found it inspiring to be around like-minded people who had the same objectives – to do things differently and really change the way we (and others) think and behave. The programme itself was tiring, quite emotionally draining at times and quite often wet and muddy (that’s the British spring time for you though) but really helped me reconfirm my beliefs that what I did mattered.
The guys from Earthwatch, scientists and field study co-ordinators were great in providing insight, information, experience and support during the 2 weeks in the field and also upon our return.
After coming to the end of the two weeks in Oxford, I had decided to start looking at four projects.
- To look at establishing a ‘green team’ amongst my immediate colleagues to tackle the issues raised in projects 2-4.
- To implement a carbon footprint challenge in our team to raise awareness of household footprints and try and encourage reductions
- To look at the sustainability policies of our external suppliers within the Marketing team
- To investigate the feasibility of measuring the impact of flexible working/ working from home on HSBC’s ‘actual’ carbon footprint
Within two weeks of returning I had compiled a presentation for my team outlining the objectives of the Climate Champion Programme and detailing the objectives I wanted to achieve on my return. Immediately after this, three of my immediate team came to talk to me and expressed an interest both in contributing towards these projects and to other initiatives, and also wanting to know more about the Climate Champion Programme.
Subsequently two of them then applied for the programme in 2009.
At this same presentation I sent out details of the carbon footprint calculator tool on-line and asked each of the team to spend some time calculating their individual carbon footprint and send me their results to compile into a team list and calculate our overall footprint as a team of 40 individuals. I managed to get approx 50% of the team to submit these – some admitted they were actually quite ashamed of the footprint shown which is why they did not submit them. However, I firmly believe that this in itself prompted action on their part – so in an indirect way this did make a difference. The plan was to reintroduce this again after six months and see if there were any differences, with a prize to the one with the largest percentage difference.
The project of looking at external suppliers was temporarily put on hold as I became aware of a larger project within Marketing that was due to be undertaken on a European level looking at our own products and services and sustainability credentials as well as our agencies and suppliers. Again, due to restructures and changes in operating lines, this has not yet commenced, but I have been asked to contribute towards this piece of work when it does commence.
We have now established a climate champion group - ‘the Melting Pot’ - at HSBC head office in London, where past and future climate champions work with the facilities management team to both effect change and communicate this to our colleagues across the building. Initiatives around power saving (removing phone/ blackberry chargers and switching off monitors etc) have all been successfully introduced and the team works closely with the sustainability and facilities teams to assist in communicating changes and updates. Contributions to events such as world Environment Day and other environmental projects all fall to the team to manage and implement.
Finally, the climate champion intranet has allowed me to continue to support and promote the programme across the organisation. I have received eight telephone calls and had four face to face meetings with people across the bank considering applying for the programme. I have been able to share my experiences with them and actively encourage them as individuals to get involved. Knowing that they have made the next step to apply and then subsequently get accepted to the programme is probably the biggest reward I have from the whole experience. Every new climate champion is one more person to add the many already doing something to promote change.