'Alarming' rise in sea levels predicted, tertiary education dragging its heels and trust deficit continues for business

Sea level to rise at double present rate

The world could face average sea-level rises of 6 millimetres per year by 2040, double the present rate, new research from Oxford University’s Oxford Martin School finds. At the end of this century, sea-level rises are set to increase even further, to around 14mm per year.

The world should expect a 20cm jump in the average global sea level between now and 2040, increasing another 60-70cm between 2040 to 2100. This is assuming a “business as usual” scenario in which the earth’s global surface temperature rises by 2°C compared to pre-industrial levels around 2040, and by 5°C around 2100.

The study anticipates a worst-case scenario, too, in which exceptional amounts of melt-water come from Antarctica and Greenland. Should that eventuality unfold, the study’s authors anticipate a massive 180cm rise in global average sea level by 2100. Coastal cities will be hardest hit. Supposing a 5°C warming scenario by the end of the century, populous cities such as Bangkok and Lagos could see rises of up to 191cm and 192cm, respectively. The range for London is calculated at between 38cm and 182cm. If this doesn’t sound grim enough, then factor in the fact that the world’s coastal megacities are expected to be home to 400m by 2030. 

Tertiary education dragging its heels on sustainability

Higher education institutions in the UK are struggling to push sustainability up the agenda, according to a recent survey by the National Union of Students, the Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges, and other partners. Only one quarter (25%) of the 512 respondents say sustainability is a strategic priority on the campuses of universities or further education colleges, with a mere 1% giving their institution a score of 10 out of 10 for sustainability performance.

Lack of financial resources and budget cuts are seen as the biggest barriers (cited by 24% of respondents), followed by a weak commitment by senior management (15%) and shortages of sustainability staff (14%). The situation is worst in the further education sector. Sustainability management typically features as just one aspect of a staff member’s official role, with the result that they spend on average only 10% of their time on the issue. On a more positive note, two-fifths of those surveyed believe their institutions are "likely" or "very likely" to meet their carbon targets. This contrasts with findings of a recent study by consultants Brite Green, which suggests that 71% of higher education institutions are set to miss their 2020 carbon commitments.

Trust deficit continues for business

Businesses have struggled to win and maintain public trust over recent years. Now the problem appears to be getting worse. An opinion survey released by the London-based Academy of Executive Coaching finds that more than half (57%) of UK citizens over

55 years old have lost trust in corporations and businesses in recent years. A mere 2% say their levels of trust have gone up over the same period.

Young people appear less cynical, however, with more than one third of people under 25 saying their trust in private sector institutions is higher than before. Retailers are the most trusted private sector institutions, with survey respondents giving high-street brands and online brands scores of 6.27 and 6.06 out of a maximum of 10 (for completely trustworthy), respectively.

Banks scored surprisingly well (5.27), with print media (4.88) and insurance companies (4.82) further down the list. At least business isn’t bottom: that accolade goes to politicians (3.51). The findings echo the 2016 Edelman Trust Barometer released at the beginning of the year, which found financial services to be the least trusted sector (with 49% of people saying they do not trust companies in the sector). The most trusted industries in Edelman’s global study emerge as technology (74%), food and beverage (64%) and consumer packaged goods (61%).

cheat sheet  climate  sustainability  Environment  business leaders 

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