Sunday, April 09, 2006

The 'sleeping giant' starts to wake up...

It was another big week for business and sustainability. This interesting commentary from MarketWatch.com following the Time cover story, discusses how climate change is finally a serious business concern, and how companies are tripping over themselves trying to figure out how to address it.

The article points out that “Over the past week alone, Wells Fargo (WFC), UPS (UPS), BP (BP), Nike (NKE), Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), Dell (DELL), and GM (GM) have put out press releases about their environmental initiatives.”

Maryland became the 8th state to join RGGI (Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative), California introduced legislation that would set a cap on GHG emissions, and utilities and energy intensive industry at a US Senate hearing Tuesday gave broad approval for a federal cap and trade system.

It’s great to see the US finally addressing the issue (unfortunately almost 10 years behind the rest of the world), as it certainly is a prerequisite for the kind of sea-change necessary to tackle the problem.

The late response will make the problem more expensive to deal with – as every long term capital investment in fossil fuel power plants and urban / sub-urban infrastructure that reinforces the need for car travel is essentially throwing money down the drain, hurting our competitive advantage.

But my hope is that there is a silver lining to this – and that would be that because the slow and stubborn response will cost us collectively a lot of money, we will be less likely to continue to push off problems as long as possible, particularly when they are problems we know little about.

In other words, hopefully all of us in the US – our businesses and governments included – will start taking a more holistic approach to assessing the impacts of how we go about meeting our needs. We can start taking a pro-active, upstream, strategic approach to Sustainable Development at home – and I think only in that way can the US hope to hang on to its position as a global leader, and regain its reputation as a respected one.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

You truly are living in a dream world if you think the US population is going to suddenly adopt bikes, leave the suburbs and live in nesty European style villages. Wake up and have a look outside Sweeden.

Georges said...

ahh, man, a look outside Sweden would be great right - been a long winter here in k-town... and you are absolutely right, I don't think the US is going to turn wholesale to bikes and euro-villas anytime soon either - I certainly didn't mean to give that impression. Not that we would want it anyway, but the Euro-style of sustainable development is pretty unique given the different history, culture, etc. There are some cool things going on in the states with smart-growth initiatives and the surge in green building spreading to urban design. And you're right, I don't think the general population of the US are just going to throw in their SUV keys just because we now know climate change is 'real' - but I think more and more, as we realize the nature of some of our discontent despite great wealth, that we'll look to re-evaluate our time spent in traffic, parking lots, etc. Japan's an interesting example with the emergence of "slow society" movement. Again, I'm not predicting or recommending such a move would take hold in the US, but some interesting topics to consider, regardless

Georges said...

Along the same lines, the upcoming LEED-Neighborhood Development certification is an interesting program in the US - given the success and growth of LEED, it will likely make an impact within the next few years
http://www.usgbc.org/DisplayPage.aspx?CMSPageID=148&

Anonymous said...

george- its sprague. i need to talk and your cell isn't working.. how can i get in touch with u?
me

Georges said...

sprague- give a holla on skype: 978 631 0394

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