Since business is the source of much of the world’s problems, by grasping the wisdom that will allow it to re-invent itself, it can play a major role in the solutions. Words such as ethical, principled, circular, sustainable and regenerative all describe a new type of emerging business paradigm which all share the common attribute of balancing human needs while minimizing impact on the environment and other living beings minimally. In fact, rather than seeing fixing the environment as a cost, these businesses are shifting paradigms, seeing “Green or Blue” as the biggest business opportunity this century.
It is important to realize that a truly sustainable human civilization requires both sides of the to be met. The transition cannot be completed if we only do the ecological transition while ignoring the economic one. If we transition to a new ecologically sound production system which is dominated by a few large corporations, we have not deconstructed the inequity which has been the source of so much of the problems we have suffered. Such a framework will inevitably lead back to the same problems.
The nature of what we consume and how much of it must undergo a radical shift. It has already been demonstrated that it unrealistic for 9 billion people to continue consuming at Americans or Europeans levels of consumption. We are already using 1.5 planets but if 9 billion people were to consume at these levels, we would require 4 or 5 planets. A dramatic reversal of consumption will characterize the business of tomorrow. Corporations are going to have to adapt to radically different markets in a truly sustainable society.There is no doubt that a large part of the solution will simply be significant contraction in raw material extraction, carbon energy usage, production and consumption.
The business community promotes, by-and-large overhauling our complete industrial technological infrastructure as the high-tech solution for our perfect storm of crisis. However, this approach is questioned by many. Some, such as David Holmgren, one of the founding fathers of Permaculture call such an approach Techno Fantasy as it is seen to be unrealistic. Holmgren sees a path of low technology and a large reduction of consumption as the more sensible one. Historian Ronald Wright coined the term Progress Trap for the way we continue to appeal to technology to solve problems of one generation only to create more problems for the next. For scientist Dr. Guy McPherson, of popular blog Nature Bats Last, even a complete global economic collapse tomorrow is insufficient to prevent the occurrence of a Near Term Extinction of homo sapien. Finally, Charles Eisenstein, in his book The Ascent of Humanity paints a picture of human civilizations journey as one marching towards a peak of separation and the coming implosion as a necessary corrective measure to re-integrate with the sacred world.
It is clear then, that the best plans of the large consortiums on this page must be taken with a balanced view that efficiencies alone are not enough to solve the problem; the other half of the equation is that we must achieve far lower consumption and more balanced consumption levels.
Carbon War Room
Richard Branson is the founder of the Carbon War Room (CWR) project. Viewing the carbon pollution problem as bigger than World War I and World War II combined, Branson casts the problem in a wartime framework with battles in multiple theatres and just like during wartime, a war room is required to coordinate the efforts. Given the scale and urgency of the problem, it is an apt analogy. It’s objective is to tap into entrepreneurs and find profitable green solutions that will result in gigaton impacts per annum. CWR focuses on 25 key focus areas and the goal is to reduce 1 Gigaton of CO2 emissions in each. The focus is on identifying market barriers and providing the necessary capital flows to scaleable solutions to achieve these reductions.
Figure 1: Carbon War Room mission statement (Source: Carbon War Room)
Figure 2: Carbon War Room theatres of operation (Source: Carbon War Room)
The CWR team has broken down the climate change problem into seven theatres and 25 battles. Tactics to address these issues include:
- Convening Power bringing together decision-makers; collective voices
- Market Interventions supply chain activity; direct meetings; media campaigns
- Technology Acceleration speed & scale discovery; incubation & promotion
- Access to Capital mobilizing the good; cutting off flow to the bad
- Policy educating policy-makers; regulatory interventions
World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD)
The World Business Council is a leading business sustainability institute formed on the eve of the Rio 1992 Earth Summit. It was founded by Swiss entrepreneur and philanthropist Stephan Schmidheiny who believed that business had a fundamental role to play in sustainable development. It is made up of many of the planet’s leading business corporations.
Figure 3: WBCSD Vision 2050 plan (Source: WBCSD)
Figure 4: The vision of Vision 2050 (Source: Vision 2050)
Focus Area Core Team Members
The Business Role
|YC Deveshwar||ITC Ltd||India|
|John Grant||BG Group||UK|
|Vasco de Mello||Brisa Auto-Estradas de Portugal||Portugal|
|Françoise Guichard||GDF Suez||France|
|John Rice||General Electric||USA|
|Steven Stanbrook||S.C. Johnson||USA|
|Fujio Cho||Toyota Motor Corporation||Japan|
Energy & Climate
|Andrew Brandler||CLP Holdings||SAR Hong Kong, China|
|Yvo de Boer||KPMG||UK|
|Jorma Ollila||Royal Dutch/Shell||Holland/UK|
|Lee McIntire||CH2M Hill||USA|
|Henrik Madsen||Det Norske Veritas||Norway|
|Dave Kepler||DOW Chemical||USA|
|Svein Richard Brandtzaeg||Norsk Hydro||Norway|
|Hiroaki Nakanishi||Hitachi Ltd||Japan|
|Antonio Mexia||EdP – Energias de Portugal||Portugal|
|David Hathorn||Mondi||South Africa|
|Alessandro Carlucci||Natura Cosméticos||Brazil|
|Tom Albanese||Rio Tinto||UK|
BICEP is an advocacy coalition of businesses committed to working with policy makers to pass meaningful energy and climate legislation that will enable a rapid transition to a low-carbon, 21st century economy that will create new jobs and stimulate economic growth while stabilizing our planet’s fragile climate.