Sustainable Business – Review of the Year 2008

2008 was the year environmental business became sustainable. Well, it was at edie in any case, because we changed our channel names about a bit.

But in all seriousness, it was a year when we started to see some real shifts.

The ‘act now or pay the price’ mantra of the Stern report continued to filter through the consciousness of the business world, working its way up to board rooms around the world, and many companies began to see good environmental performance as not simply a way to woo the public but also as something that made clear financial sense.

And this wouldn’t be a proper review of the year without mention of the credit crunch/economic down turn/financial apocalypse.

The jury appears to be out on how the dreaded CC will affect that other CC – climate change – with some saying that as industry slows down so will emissions while others argue that green concessions will be among the first thing to go as companies rein in spending.

There was spot of confusion amongst analysts and commentators over whether environmental gilding would fall by the wayside as a no-longer-affordable luxury or whether the ‘cutting energy, waste and resource use is good for the bottom line’ arguments would win the day.

Green guru Jonathon Porritt told edie that the sector would be bruised like any other by the gloomy forecasts but that key work would continue and we would witness a change in the way the green agenda was branded – reducing waste and cutting carbon emissions would increasingly frequently be referred to as resource efficiency, he predicted.

The newly-crowned Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change, Ed Miliband, told environmentalists in November that they should focus on the silver-lining and spoke about ‘greening the upturn’ and ensuring that when a new economic cycle emerged invigorated from the ashes, we should make sure it was cleaner, greener and more sustainable.

Carbon traders seemed to think the slump would cripple the fledging carbon-as-commodity concept, with the market once again lacking any scarcity as the pre-set emissions caps would be easily met due to a decreasing demand for energy use as businesses across the EU were forced to cut back.

But for greenies without a commercial agenda, this was all seen as rather good news thanks to the simple logic of the equation that less industrial activity = less pollution in general.

Across the pond the election of Barack Obama also promised hope for the green economy, so long as action matches the rhetoric.

The President Elect vowed to provide investment into several key sectors of the environmental industries, as well as providing large numbers of new green collar jobs as part of the effort to kick start the economic recovery.

Sam Bond

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