Guardian report on sustainable business

The Guardian newspaper here in the UK ran a great supplement yesterday on sustainable business. Covering climate, renewables investments (Shell have fallen way behind Chevron!), ethical trade, consumerism, china and india and various other aspects, its a really good read. Shame you can’t find the articles in any easy way on the website. Says something about how seriously the web is still taken even at the Guardian.

One of the most interesting stories is on oil and renewables investment, as mentioned above. See:

http://society.guardian.co.uk/givinglist/story/0,,1938749,00.html and Jonathon Porritt’s excellent piece: http://society.guardian.co.uk/givinglist/story/0,,1938749,00.html One of the most interesting quotes here is this:

“Greenpeace calculated the net contribution of ExxonMobil to climate change over its lifetime: “from 1882 to 2002, ExxonMobil’s emissions of CO2 totalled an estimated 20.3 billion tonnes of carbon – or between 4.7% and 5.3% of global CO2 emissions.” It was looking ahead to the possibility of future legal action against ExxonMobil on the part of those whose lives are destroyed by rising sea levels or climate-related disasters – on the same sort of basis as tobacco companies have been sued by people whose health has been destroyed by smoking.

Oil companies hate any analogy between themselves and tobacco companies as dealers in death and destruction. Indeed, they’re astonished at the hypocrisy of people who enjoy the benefits of their products (in terms of driving, flying and so on), but also reckon it’s the oil companies that should be held responsible for all the costs.

I sympathise with that; it’s far too easy for us to dump our own responsibilities on those wicked multinationals. However, there is a massive mismatch between a “socially responsible” fossil-fuels company, on the one hand, and a genuinely sustainable energy company on the other. BP and Shell (usually considered to be the most socially responsible oil companies today) continue to talk blandly of oil and gas remaining dominant sources of energy through to 2050. By contrast, the emerging scientific consensus on climate change is that we have a far shorter period of time to wean ourselves off our dependency on fossil fuels if we are to avoid runaway climate change – perhaps no more than 10 or 15 years.”

Interesting stuff, the whole report is worth a look. Most of it is linked on the left hand side of the site itself. Toby, Editor

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