The impact of the energy crisis has already started showing, and it’s not even winter yet. The Bank of England recently issued a warning that the UK will fall into recession, having had a record interest rate increase for the last 27 years. Spanish PM Pedro Sanchez published new rules for businesses limiting their a/c and heating use —no cooling below 27 degrees and no heating above 19. He also ceased the illumination of monuments, and store window lighting after 10 pm. Shops in Spain will also have to display their interior temperatures on their storefronts. Meanwhile, news on water scarcity, climate change, heatwaves and wildfires have been dominating the daily headlines.

News is grim and constructs a greater picture that we need to address. Winter is certainly coming.

Even though we always try to predict the future, we humans are not designed to think exponentially —and therein lies the problem. We cannot grasp our impact, our little butterfly wings that cause tornados and forest fires, droughts, and heatwaves. It was only a plastic water bottle that fell over that bin and ended up in the warm sand of a Mediterranean beach, an extra five minutes in the shower, a new, but non-eco-friendly business vehicle.

Nevertheless, policymaking further complicates our understanding of individual responsibility. Either because it adds a layer of complexity that re-prioritises our day-to-day lives and business management —our daily butterfly wing flaps, so to speak— or because it is absent and inaccessible.

Ingredients of a recipe for disaster

Adding to this picture a war and an energy crisis, we have all the ingredients of a recipe for disaster. Not only are we effectively destroying our planet, our collective home, but we’re also running out of resources to maintain our standard of living and our businesses in the short term. Soon, businesses will not only have to turn their lights and heating off, ultimately, they will have to close their doors. And of course, small businesses are usually the ones hit the hardest in crises like this.

Sustainability is a necessity

Whether you call it ESG or simply sustainability, it’s not just an option for our businesses. It is an urgency for our livelihood and our planet —as Carl Sagan said, “the only home we’ve ever known”. In that regard, waiting for regulations and policies to change our business models and our daily habits is like voluntarily drinking poison daily until someone orders us to stop.

Understandably, many are lost between choices, possible solutions and directions. Accepting that we, as human beings, cannot grasp the greater picture is an essential step forward. Also accepting that despite our only partial comprehension we need to start changing the way we inhabit our cities and homes, and the ways we work.

Turning the ship

David L. Marquet, a retired United States Navy captain, wrote his best-selling book “Turn the Ship Around!” to showcase how he turned the submarine he was commanding from the worst in the fleet to the most successful by using a “leader-leader” model of leadership —that is, by motivating his crew to contribute to shipping policies, own and lead their tasks and take responsibility for them rather than respond to orders.

This analogy translates well in all sustainability areas. Each one of us needs to own our actions to turn this ship around. We are here to help small and medium sized businesses do exactly that: own their actions, become sustainable and respond to the multiple cries of alarm we’re faced with daily.

 

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