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The End of Corporate Climate Change Denial?

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Tuesday November 10th, 2009 | 3 Comments

executivesgreen

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce said this summer it would like to put climate change on a “Scopes trial.” However, the end of climate change denial is over, at least when it comes to the majority of large U.S. corporations. Three-quarters of the executives interviewed for a McGraw Hill study commissioned by Siemens Building Technology view sustainability as consistent with their company’s profit mission and engage in sustainability activities, double the amount in 2006. Over half (58 percent) believe sustainability will serve the financial performance of their company from 31 percent in 2006.

The economic crisis has supported and not deterred sustainability activity in the firms represented in the study. Over half (57 percent) believe sustainability practices are either unaffected or aided by a down economy. Only 32 percent view an economic crisis as an obstacle.

Energy savings is the most important driver toward sustainability, with 75 percent citing it this year, and 73 percent in 2006. Global influences increased as a driver with 38 percent in 2009, and 26 percent in 2006. Government regulations decreased as a driver with only 29 percent citing it, down from 40 percent in 2006. However, 72 percent expect it to become a requirement.

Over 80 percent of larger firms believe sustainability provides market differentiation, and over 70 percent expect sustainability efforts to retain and attract customers, and reduce the costs of doing business. Almost a third reported dedicated funding for sustainability.

Sixty-nine percent reported that their firm employs three or more sustainability practices. The most common sustainability practices are:

  • Recycling
  • Employee engagement/activities
  • Green building
  • Initiatives with NGOs/voluntary government programs
  • Publication of annual sustainability reports

Activity in green building increased. Over a fifth (21 percent) expect to green over 60 percent of their building portfolio in 2009, up from less than 10 percent in 2006. Ari Kobb, Sustainability Director at Siemens, told Treehugger, “We think the opportunity is in smart buildings… From our standpoint, we think there is going to be technology evolution to make buildings smarter, and that the biggest gains will be conservation.”

The study recommended firms do the following:

  • Firms need to employ sustainability practices now so they will not lose “first-mover advantage.”
  • Firms need to capitalize on the advantages of sustainability.
  • Firms should look for opportunities to position themselves ahead of regulation.
  • Firms should take stock of their current baseline so they can accurately report their performance and set goals for improvement.

Kobb believes  that the U.S. will “ultimately find creative and entrepreneurial solutions that work.” The U.S. is at a “great convergence of opportunity” with top companies realizing they can make money from sustainability.


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  • http://www.chamberpost.com Brad Peck

    The Scopes Monkey trial analogy has been the go to example for everyone trying to misrepresent the Chamber’s position the last few months. What everyone ignores is that Bill Kovacs himself explained immediately that it was a false one. Though this correction was widely reported at the time many of those same outlets choose to ignore that correction and present the original quote as fact. Here was Bill Kovacs in August:
    “The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is not denying or otherwise challenging the science behind global climate change. Many of the news articles on our petition the past few days made that claim. They are not correct. The anti-business lobby quickly jumped on these news articles without actually reading the substance of the Chamber’s petition, casting us as climate ‘deniers.’ That is certainly unfortunate, but not unexpected. For many of these special interest groups, dogma trumps facts, and they’ve been calling us deniers for years, even though the Chamber supports sensible and ambitious congressional and international action on global climate change. My ‘Scopes monkey’ analogy was inappropriate and detracted from my ability to effectively convey the Chamber’s position on this important issue”

    http://energy.nationaljournal.com/2009/08/should-epa-bow-to-chambers-dem.php#1349896

  • http://www.claysamerica.com Clay Barham

    The denial is set aside, but now, the problem has grown. Scientific research has shown that the American factories are polluting the Milky Way. The galaxy is negatively affected by the lighter-than-air carbon dioxide sourced directly to American business. Because of the elevated concentration of America’s lighter-than-air carbon dioxide, the galaxy is being contracted and, within two or three decades, will be drawn n so close that stars and planets will be as close to earth as the moon, so close, in fact, they will bounce off one another like billiard balls. The green earth coalition has mounted an intense program to have government declare as criminals, all who run an American business. The United Nations has assembled troops from all third world nations to occupy the United States, quartered in American homes, arresting and imprisoning all who violate laws against American run business. President Obama and his family have designed the three wheel mini car for all Americans that run on animal waste gases, assuring the UN forces occupying America that they will solve the problem and keep the Milky Way milky. claysamerica.com

  • http://www.earth2017.com Bill Roth

    Great article! The Sustainable CEO is emerging as a leader in going green. Thanks for the insightful survey findings.