January 23, 2007 | Andrew Winston | Jump to: Comments (0) | Post A Comment
Eco-Advantage and the Climate Action Partnership
My last post notwithstanding, the recent announcement of the new Climate Action Partnership is seismic. It’s potentially a watershed moment in the battle on climate change. And it’s novel as heck because large companies are coming together to lobby for tighter regulations.
Let’s look at the corporate participants: Alcoa, BP America, Caterpillar, Duke Energy, DuPont, FPL Group, GE, Lehman Brothers, PG&E, PNM Resources.
These guys are an honor roll of sustainability-aware companies. But what’s exciting about this is that it signals in part something we call for in Green to Gold — companies seeking tighter regulations when they have the advantage. You can bet that all of these companies not only think this is the right thing to do, but believe they can win vs. their competitors in a carbon-constrained world (but kudos of course to companies like Duke Energy that have so much invested in coal and are going out on a limb to say the least).
So take a few examples:
• DuPont — already cut GHG emissions 72% since 1990. So how worried are they about their cost structure vs. other chemical companies if carbon ‘prices’ rise?
• FPL — a utility, but one of the biggest and most successful wind developers in the world, so they’re thrilled to see more pressure toward renewables.
• Alcoa — if the world needs to lighten its load (for example, less dense cars burn less gas), then aluminum is a good answer — and do you think Alcoa might benefit?
• GE — of course GE has made its intentions on ecomagination known.
The point is this: these companies can all gain from change if they help shape it and fill the world’s need to cut carbon. Some will have to change their models more than others to fit into the new paradigm, but as many have said before, it’s better to eat your own lunch.
Very few will talk about this in terms of competitive advantage, focusing instead on the coolness of the partnership with major NGOs, and the novelty of the lobbying effort — those are big deals no doubt. But don’t forget the hard-nosed, competitive, eco-advantage reasons to do this. It’s not only ok to compete on this, it’s actually a good thing for business and the environment.