The top 10 sustainability stories of 2012

The end of oil?
A bit overstated, yes, but coal is already in decline, as nuclear has been for years. Speaking of stranded assets…this is a big one, and a pointed reminder of the depth of the conflict/. The International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook, released in November 2012, declared that “No more than one-third of proven reserves of fossil fuels can be consumed prior to 2050 if the world is to achieve the 2 °C goal.”

Another marker: 350.org‘s rapidly accelerating campaign to have universities divest from fossil energy investments.

“The stone age didn’t end because we ran out of stones,” as OPEC Foreign Minister Shiekh Zaki Yamani observed in 1973. And the fossil energy age won’t end because we run out of oil. But it will end.

Ecological corporate accounting. 
I flagged Puma’s initiative on the environmental profit and loss statement (EP&L) in my 2011 Top Stories. But I was surprised—and delighted—to see the news out of the Rio conference that a dozen or two more companies have risen to the challenge of doing the same. And I was delighted—though not at all surprised—to se a growing number of CFOs getting deeply engaged in unlocking the business value of sustainable business.

Massive value. 
Last and certainly not least is the matter of massive value. (Not a top story that I missed. More the story that I’m living in, as we unlock the potential. Many of you have heard me say—for some years now—that “sustainability may represent the biggest opportunity of the 21st century.” I still believe that, expect now—based on recent work with key clients—I think I may have understated the opportunity.

That’s it. It’s been quite a year. And there’s quite a year to come.

Image by Img Raj via Shutterstock