Publicado Originalmente: 15/01/2016
Too many people in the corporate sector are still in denial about climate change, according to Katherine Garrett-Cox, the CEO of investment firm Alliance Trust.
Speaking at a Guardian Sustainable Business debate on the role of business in tackling climate change, Garrett-Cox, herself an outspoken advocate on the issue, said: “Within the last 12 months, I’ve had conversations with CEOs of major corporates in Europe and they just say, ‘It’s not real, it’s not something I should be bothered about’.” It is “scary” how little discussion there is at boardroom level about whether climate change is a risk at all, she added.
One month on from a landmark climate change deal at UN talks in Paris, Garrett-Cox hopes this will be the tipping point for businesses waking up to climate change. Ikea’s sustainability chief Steve Howard agreed, saying 2016 presents the corporate world with “an unprecedented opportunity” to reinvent its business models in line with the challenge.
However, speaking at the event, the UK’s only Green party MP Caroline Lucas said the government was making this transition more difficult: “This is a government that doesn’t like scrutiny … and that’s part of the whole way it’s going about its green policies.”
The UK government has been widely criticised since its election in May for making a series of changes to environmental policy such as scrapping subsidies for onshore wind, ending the green deal scheme that helps homeowners insulate their homes and cutting support for the solar industry, which has since seen a number of firms going into liquidation.
“What this government is doing in the name of being business friendly is constantly moving the goalposts so that no one knows where it’s going to be safe to invest,” she said. “The green economy is actually one of the best places to invest for jobs, to enable us to get out of the economic crisis we face as well as to keep emissions down.”
And moving to a green economy means rethinking consumption patterns, especially in the west, according to Howard . “If we look on a global basis, in the west we have probably hit peak stuff. We talk about peak oil. I’d say we’ve hit peak red meat, peak sugar, peak stuff … peak home furnishings. If you look on a global basis, most people are still poor and most people actually haven’t got to sufficiency yet. There is a global growth opportunity … but it’s a distribution issue.”
Ikea has hit the headlines for introducing a raft of environmental policies in the last year. It has pledged to invest €1bn (£755m) in renewable energy and measures to help poorer communities deal with the impacts of climate change; announced that 100% of the energy used to power its shops and factories will come from clean sources by 2020; and phased out all non-LED lightbulbs from its stores.
Leading climate change scientist Kevin Anderson, from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Research, was more sceptical and said the idea that the green economy would enable people in the west to consume more was irreconcilable with international climate change commitments.
“At a global level – if you want to see any level of equity around the globe – the idea that people like us can consume and see improvements in material wellbeing is to me not compatible with what the science is telling us about climate change … there are real problems if we try to tell people that, actually, if we’re really clever in the wealthy parts of the world that we can have our cake and eat it. That misunderstands the severity of the challenge we’re facing.”
Anderson said that in the future it could be necessary to introduce a shorter working week, he added.
“Under the current model you need growth because there is a pursuit of productivity, which people always say is a good thing. If we have an increase in productivity that means you have fewer people producing the same number of goods. If you want to then maintain employment you have to maintain growth to have the same number of people employed,” he said.
“So you have to start unpicking all these pieces and saying, ‘Well what would that mean for our society?’ There are different reasons why we might be looking at a world where we have to work fewer hours. We consume fewer goods but we have a higher quality of life in that time that we have available.”
FONTE: The Guardian