Ecological decline "a greater threat than international terrorism": the challenge for business

The world's CEOs are in an upbeat mood as they meet in Davos with a PricewaterhouseCoopers survey, as reported here , finding they are overwhelmingly optimistic about growth, their confidence nearly double the level since 2001.

According to that survey, the only things the bosses are worried about are "overregulation" and finding talent.

A different picture from the UPS European Business Monitor, as reported here, which finds that British and European business leaders say that protecting the environment is more important than reducing world poverty, reducing wars, fighting terrorism and securing future energy supplies.

What a contrast to this week's State of the Union address where President Bush begged Congress to give war a chance.

And instead of calling for mandatory caps on emissions which would dramatically decrease America's consumption of carbon-based fuels and set an example for the rest of the world, Dubya instead suggested increasing the use of alternative fuels and enacting tougher mileage requirements for vehicles. As if that will make a difference. And that's despite the push by big US companies to cut heat-trapping emissions.

The UPS European Business Monitor findings echo the comments of Ola Ullsten, the former Prime Minister of Sweden and the chairman of the World Council for Corporate Governance who last year warned that the deterioration in the world's environment is a bigger threat than international terrorism, and that there was a connection between the two.

Ullsten was giving a speech at the 8th World Congress on Environment Management.

Ullsten argued that environmental management was linked to governance and that's a challenge for business.

"Why should business be involved in environmental affairs in other ways than adjusting to and abiding to rules and regulations imposed by governments? Shouldn't
business rather take it upon itself to warn governments that too many restrictions motivated by environmental or social concerns could make it difficult for companies to fulfill their role, which is to develop and make use of new technologies and to contribute to economic growth in the most efficient way possible?

"As I see it, companies should do both. They should weigh in when they think that the policymakers are on the wrong track. Not always by saying no though. That's the defensive attitude, being practiced all too often and leaving business with little to say in shaping environmental and social policies. To have influence, business should instead take a pro-active stance, being a serious actor with its own conceptual base and co-operative with government in the search for constructive solutions that are acceptable for business and governments alike."


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2 comments untill now

  1. Thanks Leon, My main takeaway from Inconvenient Truth was how global warming trumps everything. Remember the demo Gore does where he talks about profit v future of the earth? We can have this big pile of money but no planet…hmmm. I’ve followed Bill Gates’ cognizance of global warming with some interest, since his foundation is spending so much money on health, AIDS, etc. I saw an interview a couple months ago where he said he’d vaguely heard of global warming but didn’t know much about it and planned to “read up” on it. Maybe the Davos gig (he’s supposedly there) will help lift the scales from his eyes as well.

  2. Thanks Leon, My main takeaway from Inconvenient Truth was how global warming trumps everything. Remember the demo Gore does where he talks about profit v future of the earth? We can have this big pile of money but no planet…hmmm. I’ve followed Bill Gates’ cognizance of global warming with some interest, since his foundation is spending so much money on health, AIDS, etc. I saw an interview a couple months ago where he said he’d vaguely heard of global warming but didn’t know much about it and planned to “read up” on it. Maybe the Davos gig (he’s supposedly there) will help lift the scales from his eyes as well.

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