18 March, 2011

Sustainable Business Weekly QLD Edition [Risk management capability in a changing climate]

ASBG QLD met with staff from NortonRose’s Brisbane Office this week and are closer to announcing a series of half day workshops throughout May, June & July 2011.

Topics will interest Environment Practitioners, Safety Managers and those whose responsibilities cut across Environment, Health & Safety.

ASBG is still planning a number of FREE public evening forums on Sustainability, with moderated panel discussions.

The first QnA forum will start with a presentation on Electric Vehicles (EV’s), followed by a Panel discussion on roads, rail, rates, rides etc…

A subsequent QnA forum will consider the vulnerability and sustainability of our industrial food system.


This edition of ASBG’s Sustainable Business weekly considers the question posed by Prof Andrew “Wilf” Wilford from Bond University:
Is our risk management capability maturity adequate to deal with such issues as accelerating climate instability, energy security and resource depletion? If not, why not. and what needs to change?

Risk Management Capability

In light of recent natural disasters, it appears that it is the low frequency high impact incidents - fire, flood, earthquake, tsunami, melt-down - that capture our collective attention and response, at almost any cost.

Meanwhile the high frequency low impact events (in terms of death and injury at least) cumulatively have a far greater impact on society and our environment, but to these many people are largely oblivious.

High frequency low impact events
One of the most dangerous activities that we face is getting to and from our workplace and business related travel.

The Australian Financial Review reports that occupational health and safety covers more than just office or factory premises and includes transport too.

A draft of the national heavy vehicle laws and the questions of maximum & minimum driving hours are part of the changing regulatory environment.

The question of fatigue also has implications for those of us who commute.

It is time to reconsider the risks and occupational health, safety & environmental impacts of commuting and business travel.

In the hierarchy of control, eliminating a hazard is the first step. Advances in Information technology are providing more opportunities to allow staff to tele-commute instead of commuting or travelling. One has to seriously consider the possible consequences of tele-commuting in terms of exposure to risks and emissions reductions.

Building Risk Management Capability

One of the half day workshops being proposed by ASBG QLD is a crash course in AS/NZS ISO 31000:2009.

After 5 years of development, the Risk Management Standard, AS/NZS 4360:2004 has been superseded by AS/NZS ISO 31000:2009, Risk management - Principles and guidelines.

ASBG intends to unpack AS/NZS ISO 31000:2009 and explain the relevance for Environment, Health &/or Safety Practitioners.

Accelerating Climate Instability

The Federal Government's key climate adviser Professor Ross Garnaut says the scientific case for climate change has been strengthened.

He has released the fifth update to his 2008 report on climate change - specifically tackling climate science.

The sixth paper considers the price of carbon & emissions reductions.

The Carbon Price Debate & Coal Seam Gas

The majority of Australia's greenhouse gas emission cuts this decade are meant to come by switching from coal-fired power to gas.

In Queensland, a switch to gas means coal seam gas. There are concerns about groundwater contamination and depletion, fugitive emissions and other environmental impacts including on food production.

The Australian Financial Review reported that JP Morgan had serious concerns about Queensland's significant water risks and a potential risk to public safety.

There is also a risk that if the price of pollution is set to low by the Gillard Government, that it will simply become an incentive scheme for investment in transitional technologies (like gas) rather than renewable energy (such as baseload solar thermal with storage or wind turbines).

Reframing the climate change debate

One of the take home messages from EcoForum last week is that the doom & gloom messages are not helping the climate debate. There is an emerging school of thought that focuses on the benefits to society of cleaner technologies and reduced consumption.

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