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The Science of Climate Change

Climate change is no longer a distant threat or just a possibility, it is now a reality for all of us. In this pathway, Kevin Trenberth, a renowned climatologist, delves into the science behind climate change. He first introduces the climate system, its main components and forces.

Tackling the Plastic Crisis

Plastic pollution is by far the biggest threat to our oceans and this remains an incredibly tough problem to solve. Plastic credits could potentially serve as one of the much needed solutions for this crisis.

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The Scale of the Net Zero Challenge

The price of meeting net zero is estimated to be between $100-150 trillion over the next 30 years. Regardless of this cost, we need to reach net zero before climate change does irreversible damage to the environment and the economy.

ESG, Sustainability and Impact Jargon Buster

ESG, sustainability, impact… they all just mean green, right? Not quite. Despite being used often interchangeably, there are distinct differences between these terms.

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Featured Pathways

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The Science of Climate Change

Climate change is no longer a distant threat or just a possibility, it is now a reality for all of us. In this pathway, Kevin Trenberth, a renowned climatologist, delves into the science behind climate change. He first introduces the climate system, its main components and forces.

Tackling the Plastic Crisis

Plastic pollution is by far the biggest threat to our oceans and this remains an incredibly tough problem to solve. Plastic credits could potentially serve as one of the much needed solutions for this crisis.

More pathways

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Plans & Membership

Our Platform

Expert led content

+1,000 expert presented, on-demand video modules

Learning analytics

Keep track of learning progress with our comprehensive data

Interactive learning

Engage with our video hotspots and knowledge check-ins

Testing & certification

Gain CPD / CPE credits and professional certification

Managed learning

Build, scale and manage your organisation’s learning

Integrations

Connect Sustainability Unlocked to your current platform

Featured Content

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The Scale of the Net Zero Challenge

The price of meeting net zero is estimated to be between $100-150 trillion over the next 30 years. Regardless of this cost, we need to reach net zero before climate change does irreversible damage to the environment and the economy.

ESG, Sustainability and Impact Jargon Buster

ESG, sustainability, impact… they all just mean green, right? Not quite. Despite being used often interchangeably, there are distinct differences between these terms.

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Development of Environmental Policy in the U.S.

Development of Environmental Policy in the U.S.

Wayne Mayer

30 years: Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility Executive

In this video, Wayne explains the evolution of sustainable development and its importance in modern business. He discusses how the United Nations and key environmental laws like NEPA, the Clean Air Act, and the Clean Water Act have shaped sustainability practices. Wayne also explores the shift in corporate focus towards finance, outsourcing, and offshoring, and how businesses can leverage environmental regulations to innovate and gain competitive advantages.

In this video, Wayne explains the evolution of sustainable development and its importance in modern business. He discusses how the United Nations and key environmental laws like NEPA, the Clean Air Act, and the Clean Water Act have shaped sustainability practices. Wayne also explores the shift in corporate focus towards finance, outsourcing, and offshoring, and how businesses can leverage environmental regulations to innovate and gain competitive advantages.

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Development of Environmental Policy in the U.S.

10 mins 34 secs

Key learning objectives:

  • Understand the concept of sustainable development

  • Outline the shift in corporate focus towards finance, outsourcing, and offshoring, and its impact on economic development

  • Understand key environmental laws such as NEPA, the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act, and CITES

Overview:

In the 1980s, the United Nations aimed to balance economic development across the three pillars of Sustainable Development: Social, Environmental, and Economic. Simultaneously, corporations began prioritizing finance, outsourcing, and offshoring, leading to a growing disconnect between economic growth and development. This trend stems from economist Milton Friedman’s 1970 argument that a business’s primary responsibility is profit maximization. Despite this corporate shift, significant environmental legislation emerged, influenced by events like the 1969 Cuyahoga River fire. Landmark laws such as NEPA, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act established frameworks for environmental protection. These regulations now guide pollution control, greenhouse gas regulation, and sustainable practices, influencing both business strategies and societal interactions.

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Summary
What is sustainable development and why did it emerge? 

Sustainable Development, defined in the 1987 Brundtland Report, means “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” This concept emerged from the United Nations’ efforts to balance economic growth, social equity, and environmental protection. It emphasizes long-term thinking and responsibility, ensuring that current actions do not jeopardize future generations' ability to thrive. The report laid the foundation for modern sustainability practices and principles, highlighting the interconnectedness of economic, social, and environmental dimensions.


How did economic development and corporate practices evolve in relation to Sustainable Development?

In the 1970s and 1980s, corporate practices diverged from the principles of Sustainable Development. Milton Friedman’s 1970 article posited that a business's sole responsibility was to increase profits, neglecting broader social and environmental concerns. Concurrently, economic development emphasized finance, outsourcing, and offshoring, further widening the gap between economic growth and sustainable practices. This period also saw the rise of environmental legislation aimed at balancing economic development with environmental protection, laying the groundwork for the integration of sustainability into corporate strategies.


What are the foundational U.S. environmental regulations, and how did they come into being?

Key U.S. environmental regulations include the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Clean Air Act, and the Clean Water Act. NEPA, established in 1969, mandates federal agencies to assess environmental impacts before proceeding with projects. The Clean Air Act of 1970 sets standards for air quality and pollutant emissions, while the Clean Water Act of 1972 regulates water pollutants and promotes watershed-based planning. These laws emerged in response to environmental crises and public demand for stronger protections, forming the backbone of U.S. environmental policy and enforcement.


How do environmental regulations impact businesses and their strategies?

Environmental regulations like NEPA, the Clean Air Act, and the Clean Water Act require businesses to consider and mitigate their environmental impact, prompting more sustainable practices. These laws necessitate compliance with pollution limits, environmental impact assessments, and public involvement, which can initially seem restrictive. However, savvy companies use these regulations to innovate, turning compliance into opportunities for cost reduction, risk management, and enhanced brand value. By integrating sustainable practices, businesses not only meet regulatory requirements but also gain competitive advantages and drive profitability.

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Wayne Mayer

Wayne Mayer

Wayne Mayer, a Strategic Sustainability consultant and CEO of When Everything Matters, advises multinational companies and non-governmental organizations on various Sustainability and ESG issues. He helps companies transform business models into sustainable development partnerships, using Sustainability principles and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) practices to drive innovation, growth, and profits. With over 20 years of experience, Wayne has worked as a change agent focused on Environmental, Social, and Governance performance. He helps companies set science-based goals and leverage data and technology to measure, monitor, and communicate ESG risks, impacts, and opportunities.

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