It's the Environment, Stupid.

Monday, January 16, 2006

What if climate change mitigation was profitable?

"Australian Prime Minister John Howard told the conference 'the idea that we can address climate-change matters successfully at the expense of economic growth is not only unrealistic but also unacceptable'." (From WBCSD.org - http://www.wbcsd.org/Plugins/DocSearch/details.asp?DocTypeId=32&ObjectId=MTc4NTE)

What if you could address climate-change matters without sacrificing economic growth? Would Mr. Howard say, "That'd be fine. Let's do it." Or would he just make up some other lame excuse for not wanting to address climate change.

I don't care whether or not you believe that climate change is a naturally occuring phenomenon, whether it is induced by human industrialization, or created by little green men from mars - it is happening. Ice caps are melting, ocean temperatures are rising (you know the drill) the facts are there, it is not speculation any more. So why fight it? The longer we (okay, "you" meaning governments ie. U.S., and Australia) bicker about how much it'll cost to make our world cleaner, the more time passes that we're not doing anything about it. (That sentence should really end with an !)

Now, before you write me off as just another doomsayer - ask yourself, if cost were the main issue, why are there some companies that are voluntarily reducing their emissions? You don't hear them complaining about the costs. Why don't they just continue business as usual? Why? Because they're still profitable, that's why.

"In 1994, DuPont committed to cutting its gas emissions by 40% by the year 2000 from its 1990 levels. By 2000 the company had met its original target and set an even more ambitious one -- a 65% reduction by 2010. But the gains have been so dramatic that DuPont has already hit that goal too. It also uses 7% less energy than it did in 1990, despite producing 30% more goods. That has saved $2 billion." From Business Week. "The Race Against Climate Change" 12 December 2005. http://businessweek.com/magazine/content/05_50/b3963401.htm

Of course I don't specifically know which businesses are influencing Mr. Howards remarks, but someone should set up a meeting with DuPont and others who are realizing that climate-change mitigation isn't all that bad for the bottom line - plus, it's even getting some positive PR out of the deal, which strengthens investor relations, which leads to... (you can fill in the blanks.)

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