Friday, June 16, 2006

The "business of sustainability" is indeed a rampant media topic at the moment. I've written a number of threads (here and here most recently) offering the odd thought on some interesting business sustainability press. It really does seem that a whole raft of big businesses are checking themselves into the sustainability clinic.

In the last month a whole bunch of large businesses in the UK and in the US have gone direct to their Governments and asked for stricter fossil fuel emissions controls. Yes you've read me right. Business has asked Govt. to intervene. Hark! Libertarians at the ready!

At the March Climate Change and Governance conference in Wellington a clear message was sent: set a price for carbon and business will know which way to head. This is the exact sentiment of the UK/US big business submissions. In particular, businesses want to know which technology options to pursue. The bottom line seems to be that business wants to take the plunge but is being hampered by an opaque policy environment.

An article in the Economist states the case clearly: that "climate change creates real business risks and opportunities". According to the Economist, the risk of rising energy costs is the most pressing - this is of course as much geo-political risk as environmental or even regulatory risk, but it is risk all the same.

The concluding paragraph of the Economist article hints at the logical conclusion of the move by big business towards sustainability. Up to half of company value is at stake if firms fail to take climate action. Shareholder value is what drives corporate decisions (for better or worse), and when statements like "a halving of value" are bandied about, those at the board room table are bound to take note.

Of course this applies to small business as much as the monsters. The major British building services advocacy group is running the "100 Days of Carbon Cleanup" campaign - where the BBC is covering the weekly efforts of one particular firm. Although it's heavily energy focused it makes for interesting reading. I cant help but think that the NZ Sustainable Business Network's Get Sustainable Challenge is a more convincing initiative. Its a very simple and practical means of bringing sustainability into your business. I suggest you take a look at it...

With all this press, and all of these initiatives, are we finally seeing a sea-change? I suspect so!

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