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Carbon Disclosure Project 2011

Interview with Dan Esty

Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and commentator on business, energy and climate change issues. Author of ‘The Green to Gold Business Playbook’.

1. What pressures do U.S. businesses face today?

“As the U.S. economy makes its slow recovery, companies are under pressure to control costs. There is a focus to drive efficiency across the whole business structure; this includes the use of eco-efficient technologies, particularly due to the high cost of oil, requiring companies to keep their consumption of energy down. The theme of being cost conscious is common across sectors and is required to continue the momentum for economic recovery.”

“Business is at a critical stage where it needs to reduce energy use, reduce waste and take more care in using raw materials. Efforts to control these three core areas will translate to savings on the bottom line.”

“Across nearly all commodities you are seeing increased competition and higher prices. This means it pays off to make better and more efficient use of raw materials.”

2. What external pressures are businesses under?

“Pressure on companies to take the lead on environmental issues runs counter-cyclical to government pressure. When the government is leading the charge, the public does not expect businesses to do anything beyond what the government is requiring. The recent breakdown in government leadership on the environmental agenda in general and on climate change in particular has increased focus on what companies are doing on their own.”

3. How can ICT help companies decrease costs, increase efficiency and decrease emissions?

“ICT can help customers and business to become more

sustainable. By acting as the platform, ICT can be used to drive emissions reductions. I think that technology has dramatically improved in the last few years and companies are seeing it as a real opportunity to supplant at least some types of travel. Instead of having people fly for a 2 or 3 hour meeting, it is much more common to have the meeting via telepresence. Telecommuting enables employees to work from home and reduces the carbon footprint.

Finally, I feel that for too long our economy has been defined by paper. This is changing. Banks are incentivizing people to select paperless transactions as it makes sense: it saves money, paper and time and fewer errors take place.”

4. What is the role of mobile communications?

“We are now in a world where handheld communications devices can allow a transaction to occur quickly and efficiently where they would have traditionally involved several steps. The government in Connecticut is sending people out with tablet computers. They can take down permit information and transmit this to the office where it can be processed. It is quick, efficient and decreases the risk of human error.”

5. What is the role of a broadband network in helping us move towards a dematerialized economy?

“In the past we have been constrained by the inability to get hold of and analyze high quality data. The ability of broadband to move large amounts of data will help businesses and

society make far more careful and refined environmental decisions. In addition robust networks can enhance collaboration in developing, monitoring and sharing best practice. Social networking can help citizens to exchange information on how companies are performing.

Speed of the broadband network and the capacity to manage the increasing data pool are the essential elements of a high quality network. It’s essential that the infrastructure is updated on an ongoing basis.”

6. How could ICT help stimulate the economy?

“ICT can help stimulate the economy in three ways. Firstly, it improves the productivity of nearly every business of every kind. Secondly, there are new industries emerging that are based on Information Technology services. Thirdly, the dissemination effect allows good ideas to move quickly and stimulate growth through innovation.”

7. What role will ICT play in the sustainable future that you envisage?

“I have been a big believer for many years in the opportunities created by Information Technology to transform how businesses operate in every sector of society. Much greater eco- efficiency is a function of having the ability to record, transfer and analyze detailed information. ICT and the communications networks across which the data will be transferred are essential for this data quality and transparency to be realized.”


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