Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Climate change, a business opportunity?

I got an email from a dear friend, asking my opinion about this article: Is a Stringent Climate Change Agreement a Pot of Gold?

I did find it interesting, although I think it misses a very important point.

First I would like to state that I’m in favour of entrepreneurs, either persons or companies that search for innovation, and that manage change in order to succeed. I do believe that that is a fundamental part of development, and also that we should all be able to manage change successfully, since all our life, environment, society, working conditions, and so and so forth, are in constant change.  This become of utterly importance to developing countries, where taking the risk and opportunities to find successful business areas is very needed.   There’s nothing wrong in supporting and encouraging entrepreneurs’ projects and ideas.

However the author of the article loose his compass when he sees the climate change agreement only as an opportunity to make money.  It is precisely that ideas, what have driven us to the need of that restrictions and emergency measures that we need to put into action now to ensure that we, as species, have a future.  The idea that everything is just a business opportunity to make more money is just wrong.  Granted, we need economies to grow, we want and need our personal welfare to grow in order to satisfy our needs and be comfortable, but the idea of seen everything in terms of profit is a distorted one.

A lot of that entrepreneurs’ projects have being useful, but there’s also a lot of rubbish around. Ideas and projects that only induce consumerism and fabricate needs, illusionary concepts that make us believe that we need them when it is not.   We can’t go around consuming and consuming more and more, without any idea of why or what are the consequences.  We need an economy of sustainability, not a more consumerist one. Full stop.

One of the core policies of the company I work for is: “nothing is more important than safety—not sales, not production, not profits”.  On a similar way I would propose that this climate change agreement is indeed an opportunity, an opportunity to change our mindset, to change the way we do business, and that the global core policies of every company and nation will be “nothing is more important than sustainability—not sales, not production, not profits.” 

We just can’t continue growing and growing, and consuming the world’s resources, and getting the third world country deeper into poverty to satisfy the needs of the highly consumerist first world, and not even the increasingly consuming developing countries.  The big problem is that the developing and emerging economies, as India, Brazil, Mexico, South Korea, etc. are looking to the USA as a model to reach, which is totally flawed! Do we all want to consume and behave as the States??  Blimey no! That would only collapse our world.  The rampant capitalism leaded by the people, companies and economists of the USA have proved that their model, even when it seems to be successful in short term, is a big failure to long term.   Why not looking for other models as many European countries, as Finland, etc. that without being so loud about their success have sustainable good living standards.   Of course they are not perfect and still that countries have a lot of work to do.

This times are indeed a big opportunity, moreover, they are a big business opportunity; but not to make money just for the sake of it, but to start a new economic model that do not extract resources and creates proverty in the third world to support the first and the developing economies, that is aware of its long term responsibility with the whole planet we are living in, and basically put sustainability as the top priority; for our own sake.  Is it enough space there for entrepreneurs and business success?  Yes I think it is, but only if we modify our priorities and kept behind that flawed ideas, otherwise there will be no future, not to mention no business opportunities, for our grandchildren.

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