21 Dec 2009
By Turlough Guerin

A matter of degrees


What difference could a degree make?

Well, quite a lot actually when it comes to the impacts of global warming on climatic conditions.

A degree might not sound like much.

Consider this. If you travel one degree off course, you’ll be off target by about 18 m for every kilometre you travel. Doesn’t sound too bad. But it adds up over a long journey and enough to get you lost. And in the context of global average (atmospheric) temperature rises, one degree is estimated to be the difference between what the world could accept and what could be catastrophic.

Based on the data I have seen, it is clear to me what the major causes of global warming in relatively recent times are. My thoughts have moved from the debate about whether climate change is really occurring, to how companies will responsibly deal with the challenge of reducing emissions and adapting to extremes of weather.

If all companies carried their share of the burden for reducing emissions, we could help avert the extremes of carbon emission and temperature increases.

Of course we need effective government and inter-government policy as well to enforce and spread the load [fairly] across societies. That is what Copenhagen was supposed to be about.

I was encouraged to see that the Australian PM acknowledges that a national broadband network will help Australia reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.  Further, he is financially supporting mobile solutions for improved health care and emergency warning systems. New technologies often need a boost to ensure they get off to a strong start.

Helping themselves and their customers to adapt to climate change, and making commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, is what is expected from the world’s corporations. Small contributions to both climate change adaptation and emissions reduction, in my view, will add up to make a significant contribution.

Even with the outcomes from out of Copenhagen, my take is that responsible companies will get on with the job of cutting their own emissions and helping themselves and their customers to cut theirs, as well as adapting to the impacts of climate change.

Related Blogs & Posts:

Telstra is supporting its customers to get the information they need about extreme weather events and emergencies.  With the bushfire season now underway, telecommunication services are proving critical in helping communities keep up to date with changes in conditions.

Telstra has announced its commitment to reduce its carbon emissions intensity by 10% by 2015.

Telstra is supporting businesses to reduce their carbon emissions through provision of high quality video conferencing. See the announcement on one of our lastest deals with a global corporation.

Check out the draft UN analysis of the projected shortfalls in emissions cuts which suggest temperatures could rise an additional degree to what was formerly considered to be the case.

Visit Tony Chan’s Green Telecom site which goes into an in-depth commentary of the recently released “Mobile’s Green Manifesto” which is the most comprehensive industry assessment of the role of telecommunications in combating climate change.


Posts: 10


  1. Chris Dodds says:

    The failure of politicans at Copenhagen and the lack of action in Australia has exposed the lack of will to stand up to the power of incumbent industries. Until those in the corporate world take a stand and expose the lies of the vested interests then all corporations will be tarred with the same brush. My daughter’s response to the failure in Copenhagen was to join with a community group and occupy a coal train on its way to the largest coal port in the world Newcastle. If politicans and corporations wont act then the people will.

  2. deane belfield says:


    I most certainly do have a view of this and I could be here for a long time sharing it. However what Copenhagen showed us is that we cannot and should not wait for the politicians. They are clearly trapped by numerous agenda, self-interest, lack of vision or understand and paralysis. The solution lies with the silent majority to reclaim our future. THis is the moment of truth when caring people might just start to rise to their feet and proclaim, enough! In order to address the challenges ahead (both in terms of climate change and sustainability more generally) we need to introduce step change in our way of thinking and doing and being. Not incremental continuous improvement – this will just not cut it. Step change is not about improving what we have been doing, coming from the past (this is stil th paradigm we saw in Copenhagen). Rather its about deciding our preferred future and then working backwards to create the game plan that will get us there. This creates a different way of thinking and leads to step-change. Enough for today. You could visit for a refreshing approach which is capturing the imagination of Australians and may just provide a step change solution. Together we can make it happen.

    Merry Christmas


  3. rcshreeyan says:

    jaihind! goodday, goodluck!
    The copenhagen meet previously thought as a failed work of the capitalist democracy & the party leadership. Today everybody wants to talk about the earth but noboday wants to go through the system of villages which is the core point of world atmosphere survival. Today every thing is going wrong. The world politics today become a place of dirty & cunning attacks on its opponents. The sooner we understand the democracy & the need of the world wide social system to support the capitalism & the socialism to generate the social unity for providing the social services to all people to control the mess created by the world’s capitalist party leaders.
    The world today require the free constritutions, free democracy, absolute right to common people to control the society with the social system & the people’s democracy to control the political institutions to discuss, guide, guard, supervise, assist & to protect the social system & the social unity. The government job is only this but social work is larger and require the huge social system to support the all people.

  4. Chuck Nolan says:

    While the Earth appears to be undergoing a period of polar warming, where the winds are mixing the air from the poles with the air from the more equatorial latitudes, there is a serious lack of proof that this is totally caused by human activity. I see many sarcastic posts about increasing snow in the upper mid latitudes during the winter, yet, I see the evidence of glacial and ice cap deterioration.

    There are many valid reasons to transition from carbon based fuels and to reduce the emissions of methane, but this intense focus on human caused global warming both confuses the public and sets the stage for a major loss of credibility by those with this narrow focus.

    Long before man was using coal and oil to power industry, something caused the Siberian Mastadons to be quick frozen, many with food in their mouths. This proves to us that there is a potential for a catastrophic regional shift in air temperature that can be triggered by unknown force or forces.

    Our theme should be focused on risk reduction, taking into account all possible theories. To quote Dr. Nate Lewis of CalTech, “Do we want to run the experiment (changing factors that may influence climate) on ourselves? … where will we, our children, and our grand children go to live, if we are wrong?”

    Increasing carbon dioxide and methane emissions should be compared to drunk driving, an unacceptable risk, not an absolute certainty of disaster.

  5. Arjun says:

    the relative importance of ONE degree is very effictively brought out.

  6. Turlough says:

    Thanks for your comment Chris.

    The fear of new technology is nothing new. Low carbon solutions & technologies will be probably be no different to previous eras. Customers are the market afterall and when they start shifting to low carbon products/services etc, the encumbered technology/service providers will have to change.

    Desperate times call for desperate measures.

    I think we’ll see more “direct action” in coming months/years.

  7. Jeremy Green says:

    Sound stuff. Actually it’s not enough for industries to be reducing their carbon intensity, they have to reduce their absolute level of emissions. In principle telecoms could increase its emissions if it helps other to reduce theirs by a greater amount, but I remain to be convinced that this is a good idea.

    And sorry about your friend Chuck, but we’ve all got them. To be an ‘effective’ denier you don’t need to engage with the evidence, just find a little bit that you like and keep repeating it. Works for holocaust denial, moon landing denial, anything you like.

  8. Turlough says:

    Deane – Thanks for your comments. Yes so much for getting certainty from politicians. I personally do not believe companies should wait aroudn for “certainty” though it would make capital investment decisions easier.

    The P2P approach looks innovative – I’ll follow it on Twitter.

  9. Turlough says:

    Hi Chuck – I don’t think it matters to what extent global warming is human induced. But we can say with confidence that temps have gone up post the industrial era. As you say there are many valid reasons to transition from fossil fuels. I’d hope that all professionals who have an ability to act do act and get on with the work of educating, communicating and actually reducing carbon in their businesses and industries.


    Well the result obtained I worked out in less than an hour total time. The only problem is I noticed much more than what was stated.
    e.g. China had to close down industry to hold the Olympics.
    World’s readings changed at this time.
    China had to close down industry to hold their big Celebration this year
    ( China has a major polution issue. It is stated Peking is a disaster on its own. The Olympics could not have been held under normal conditions. Why did they not pick this up and work to fix it as a major issue. )
    Conference RESULT:
    From the conference at the end NO International monitoring of China’s effort.
    China is after industries that cannot work in other countries to move to China.

    China wants to control the WORLD by controlling all industries.

    Why must Australia support process’s that will assist the above. Why must Australia give away MOST INDUSTRIES to CHINA etc where the problems are not here.

  11. Turlough says:

    Thanks for your comments Jeremy.

    Developing the proof points for how ICT can reduce carbon emissions is one of our internal projects. This is challenging to prove but we have seen carbon savings from our use and customer’s use of our products. We are in the process of developing the data and supporting evidence to tell this story.

  12. Turlough: Carbon emissions is NOT the problem we should be looking at.
    Our NUMBER ONE AIM should be to improve the lifestyle of Australians in the modern world and use the the results to assist nearby countries in the pacific area to improve theirs.
    We WILL NOT DO THIS by sending jobs to CHINA, INDIA etc.

    Australia needs to use the massive experience and understanding that it has to do the above. It does not need people looking to just improve themselves or agenda.

    Your study on showing savings from reducing carbon emissions is a waste. It will NOT HELP Australia.

  13. Robbie Stephens says:

    I agree Grahame. Not so much with your comment on carbon emissions, but certainly with your opposition to the disgraceful managerial approach of outsourcing Aussie jobs abroad.

    As such, I had a fun time corresponding (at NWAT) previously, with a bigoted gentleman, who said that he was not from Australia but lived here! He then openly claimed “all” Aussies to be lazy, who believe the world owes them (us) a living and if a company can cut costs by bypassing us lazy Aussies, they should.

    He was also on the Telstra side of the comms argument and as such (like I am doing here and backing you Grahame, even though we sit on opposing sides of the comms debate) not one of the normally outspoken Telstra shareholders, who claim they are only interested in what is best for Australia, supported me in opposing his abhorrent generalizations.

    Nor did any of them even show displeasure at his open promotion of Aussie jobs being lost. In fact one of these shareholders (whilst not condoning the lazy Aussie comment) still supported this gentleman’s overall position.

    Q. So what has brought on this willingness for Aussie companies to consider outsourcing abroad and for people to make such disgracefully biased/racist comments?

    A. Cheap labour = more profits = greater share price.

    As I have said all along… In the end it all comes down to greed – not ethics, decency or social responsibility, sadly, just $$$.

  14. Turlough says:

    Thanks for your comments Graham.

    Depends on your definition of improving lifestyles. I think we can improve it by reducing our carbon emissions (we are one of the highest per capita in the world) but others may disagree and see that reducing our energy usage makes our lifestyles less comfortable.

    Not sure what you meant by sending jobs to China – did I miss something? Was that implicit in my belief in mobile technologies helping to reducing carbon emissions??

  15. Turlough: Explanation of Jobs to China.

    China wants more jobs and control in the world today. One way they have found to do it, is to take the work that is stopped in countries like Australia due to carbon emissions and have the jobs done in China.
    The only problem is China is where strong indications show the polution of the World is coming from. China wants to build China bigger not worry about the World’s climate.

  16. Andrew Kilgour says:


    I am not sure I agree with your view that our No.1 aim should be to improve the lifestyles of Australians if this comes at the sacrifice of the environment. As Turlough suggests it depends on your definition of improving lifestyles i.e. not much point concentrating on quality of life if we don’t have a hospitable planet to live it on.

    However you are right in that China is, as a country, is one of the largest emitters and are building coal power stations like they are Starbucks but per capita their carbon emissions are below Australia’s. The problem here is the ‘western world’ has outsourced its manufacturing to China because, as Robbie states, the $ bottom line looks a lot better.

    The UK claimed to have achieved its carbon reduction target but it outsourced carbon intensive production to China (which should still be included in the UK’s carbon footprint not China’s in my book) and also didn’t include aviation emissions in their calculations (for some reason?). I agree that China should be held accountable and should action change but the blame does not lie squarely at their feet.

    Clearly there are many obstacles, such as political agenda however another possible obstacle is that the cure vs. prevention scenario has echo’s in human nature – for example people quit smoking after getting lung cancer, people join a gym once they are overweight, people get car insurance after crashing their car etc.

    The power has always been with the people but that requires coordinated action which is easier said than done.

  17. Andrew I Do NOT agree with your view. I give you some more strong facts.
    To stage the Olympics they had to close down industry for 5-6 months so polution level was low enough for them to be held. Otherwise NO OLYMPICS would of been held.
    To stage the celebration last year they had to again stop industry for over a month so that they had clear skies.
    The World polution reading for climate change went in the opposite direction when China closed down for the Olympics.

    How is action in Australia going to change the problems caused by China which in all indications will increase polution. That is why they do NOT want INTERNATIONAL MONITORING.

    Australia should show the World how we can proceed ahead in the modern world and not have the massive restrictions that some want.

    Australia has NOT GOT GLOBAL WARMING.

  18. Tony says:

    Australia does not have global warming – it is not a Globe.

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