Meet Andrew Cole, the corporate sustainability advocate

Andrew seeks to minimise his environmental impact in his personal life and to empower companies to adopt sustainable practices.

Andrew Cole is a Climate Reality Leaders who leads his life in a way that seeks to minimise his environmental impacts, from using a scooter as his primary mode of transport, to trying to grow his own food, to establishing water harvesting system at his home. He has been engaged in the environmental and sustainability sectors for many years. He has worked in a carbon foot printing consultancy and collaborated with a start-up trying to increase the use of electric scooters in South Africa, won the Your Street prize from the Design Indaba for Let Us Grow, an urban gardening / community development concept, and participated in a number of climate change marches. He has completed a post-grad in Sustainable Development at Stellenbosch University’s Sustainability Institute, and taken a course on aquaponics and regularly attends lectures and talks about climate-related topics.

Still, he wishes he could do more…

Despite such an impressive track-record and commitment to eco-sustainability, Andrew Cole is not an environmentalist by trade. He’s spent most of his career in corporate communications and public relations consulting. The “Canadian Cape Townian” was born in South Africa, he grew up, studied and started his career in Canada, between Ottawa, Montreal’s McGill University and Toronto. In 2006, he returned to South Africa following a two-month solo tour of South America where he explored Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia and Peru.

Andrew considers climate change to be a massive issue affecting the survival of our species and the health of our planet. It is a crisis that requires radical changes in thinking, attitudes and behaviours as we re-consider and re-frame humanity’s place in the world. Humans are causing widespread damage to ecosystems and the broader environment. Andrew deplores that although science is indisputable, the response to the scientific consensus that this is a man-made problem has been nothing short of inadequate. To him, this is partially because there are a number of industries embedded in the global economy with undue influence over governments, resulting in self-interest and short-term thinking prevailing over collective action and global collaboration to address -and hopefully rectify – how economies can grow in a more sustainable fashion.

In 2014, Andrew attended the Climate Reality Leadership Corps training in Johannesburg. He was given a chance to spread the message when in October 2015 the U.S. Consulate in Cape Town asked him to present on the reality of climate change to a group of students from YALI, the Young African Leaders Initiative or the Mandela Washington Fellowship. This programme created by former President Obama includes 150,000 young leaders around the continent. YALI focuses on providing practical information and materials and encouraging them to apply it to take action in their communities.

At present, Andrew is becoming increasingly involved in Fossil Free South Africa, a campaign to convince investors and organisations to divest from fossil fuels, a dying industry causing deleterious effects on our planet.

Being in communications consulting, Andrew is most interested in helping companies communicate and empower their employees to be part of the changes that are necessary to radically adjust the way we work, live and sustain the global economy. As part of Atmosphere Communications, he is actively looking to work with more sustainability-minded organisations. One of his current clients is a large solar company, based in Cape Town. In the past, he has also worked with the Climate Neutral Group South Africa and developed CarbonKnown, a web-based tool that allows organisations to automate the compilation of carbon footprint data on a real-time basis to track and gauge a wide range of sustainability measures, as well as the costs associated with them.

An African Climate Reality Leader from South Africa, Andrew Cole is part of a dynamic group of world-changers shaping the conversation on climate in forums ranging from family dinners to international summits. Together they are building a 21st-century movement for solutions to tackle climate change and foster environmental sustainability in Africa and world-wide.