Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Handshake between Stakeholders & Shareholders

Reason: The Age of Corporate Environmentalism: Surprise­—big business has learned that it’s pretty easy being green by Katherine Mangu-Ward.: "McDonald’s won this year’s Climate Protection Award by cooperating with Greenpeace to build a prototype McDonald’s restaurant with greener refrigerant technologies, which reduce problematic emissions from cooling units and cut energy costs by 17 percent. Cooperation between corporations and greens was done right, and everybody won.

Home Depot offers another, perhaps more sustainable model of green-corporate cooperation. It decided to use its power in the lumber market to do some good—after a little gentle prodding from the Rainforest Action Network.

While Exxon spends its money on free market think tanks, BP has chosen more picturesque causes. Delve into its Web site and you’ll find that BP is funding the Conservation Programme, which, among other things, sends students to Colombia to study “a species of parrot threatened with extinction.” After an “intensive search across the Andes for several of Colombia’s threatened parrot species” in 2002, “the team was the first to discover nests of the azure-winged parrot, the rusty-faced parrot and other threatened bird species.”

Environmental groups are (mostly) thrilled to have made so much progress—FedEx drivers in San Francisco use hybrid delivery trucks, Starbucks uses fewer disposable cups—but are still understandably wary of the corporations’ motives. Perhaps you too suspect that companies are making nice with greens only for the good P.R. And perhaps you suspect that they only make changes when there’s a profit to be made. If so, you are almost completely right.

ExxonMobil has long been a favorite target of environmental activists, especially since the tanker Exxon Valdez sank off the coast of Alaska in 1989, covering all those adorable Arctic animals in oil. Unlike BP, the company publicly opposes the Kyoto Protocols and has done so for years. That isn’t its biggest problem, though. According to Robert L. Bradley Jr., president of the Houston-based Institute for Energy Research, one major reason environmentalists go after ExxonMobil is the company’s history of funding free market groups such as the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the Heartland Institute (and Bradley’s own organization).

Ironically, Exxon is also one of the biggest investors in clean technology. Their recent safety record is also significantly better than BP’s."

No comments: