Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Climate change and the bottom line ... even in Canada?

Canada is no frontrunner in tackling climate change. In fact, in many respects, it is quite the reverse. So we were pleased to see the release of WWF Canada's report "Rethink Business How Addressing Climate Change Can Improve The Bottom Line" which looks at what some of the country's leading companies are doing to address climate change in their organizations.In fact we were so pleased that Andy agreed to write the forword for the report. Here's a sample of what he says:
"For Canadian business, the threat of climate change looms large. Nonetheless, despite its reputation as a clean, eco-loving country of verdant forestsand sparkling rivers, Canada remains a major laggard in climate protection. According to official statistics, it has one of the highest rates of per capita CO2 emissions of any country in the world. The conditions for a major change in this situation are hardly propitious either. The  economy is wedded to fossil fuels, and the federal government has been reluctant to tackle the problem of climate change through national regulation. It is clear that we need to look elsewhere for meaningful change.

Hotels, soft drinks, information technology, and paper – these might not be the obvious places to look for leadership in climate solutions in the country. However, this report demonstrates that these are indeed some of the industries where a quiet Canadian revolution is beginning to take shape. Each of the companies featured here – Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, The Coca-Cola Company, Hewlett-Packard Canada, and Catalyst Paper – have demonstrated a willingness to take a step beyond their industry rivals. They have all made an  impressive commitment to reduce absolute levels of greenhouse gas emissions. And they have each  demonstrated in their own way that doing so can also make good commercial sense. Their performance is far from perfect. But these companies can all point to significant progress that sets a benchmark for others to follow."
So the bottom line is that some of these leaders are doing some great stuff .... but there's still a long, long way to go, especially considering that these are in front of many of their competitors. If you want to read more about what these companies have done and the challenges they've faced, the whole report is downloadable for free, or you can also just download excerpts. One of the most interesting aspects for us though is that the report is based on a business collaboration implemented by WWF called Climate Savers that seeks to combine the efforts of the NGO and its corporate members to achieve meaninful carbon reductions. As Andy says in the foreword:
"The decision to take a lead on climate change is not taken lightly. WWF’s Climate Savers program, though, is a great example of what can be achieved when businesses and non-profit organizations decide to work together to achieve common goals. Such partnerships are tough to get right. Different priorities, a clash of  values, alternative ways of seeing the world: these can all derail the best-laid plans for collaboration. But  WWF Climate Savers program works because it offers a framework for action that is animated by a set of clearly articulated goals....The Climate Savers program is not just about targets, though. What Climate Savers does is provide support, advice, evaluation, and perhaps most importantly, a forum for the exchange of ideas and the communication of progress, that enables the program participants to better achieve
their goals."
We're not saying it's a panacea for tackling climate change, but challenges this big require collaborative action. And they demand a willingness to open up. And that's exactly what the Climate Savers initiative gets business in the habit of doing. It's a pity that the only way they seem able to do this is by appealing to business self-interest (as in "how addressing climate change can improve the bottom line"), but sure, there is a necessity for voluntary climate action to make some kind of commercial sense ... its just not the whole story. But if you're reading a blog about corporate responsibility, you probably didn't need us totell you that.

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