For too long companies have shown off their green credentials as a marketing strategy aimed at attracting investors or customers who are becoming more environmentally aware. In fact this has become so systemic that the phrase “Greenwash” - using green PR to whitewash corporate environmental wrongdoings has joined the lexicon of modern business.
Some companies are taking the longer view, making large green investments to prepare for anticipated shortages of power and materials. Google is investing in one of the biggest wind farms in the world in the USA and in Europe LEGO and IKEA are taking similar steps.
This month sees Rio+20 – the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development taking place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in June 20-22 2012. Its bold aim is to bring together governments and international institutions to agree on a range of smart measures to reduce poverty while promoting decent jobs, clean energy and a more sustainable and fair use of resources. The intention being to move away from business-as-usual and to act to end poverty, address environmental destruction and build a bridge to the future. However, this conference has happened before and all the corporate sustainability policies in place right now are not making much of an impact if you look at the relentless rise of carbon emissions, deforestation and overfishing.
With the population expected to grow from 7 billion to 9 billion by 2050 Governments need to do more than pay mere lip service to these goals and work with the bigger pioneering blue-chip companies who are actually making fundamental changes to their corporate behaviours such as Nestle and Unilever, who are making improvements in supply chains more environmentally sustainable. Watchdogs are needed and a closer tie between companies and governments. However if a company’s primary motivation is profit care will be needed to bring about the right policy decisions.
It’s not an auspicious start that Barak Obama, Angela Merkel and David Cameron will be noticeably absent from the Rio conference.
Closer to home, what we don’t need is more uncertainty around our own government’s commitment to the “Green Deal,” and trying to bring everyone out of fuel poverty.