Myths and Realities of Business Environmentalism

Myths and Realities of Business Environmentalism

Good Works, Good Business or Greenwash?

New Horizons in Environmental and Energy Law series

Kurt A. Strasser

Many businesses profess to be voluntarily taking steps to protect the environment, and going beyond compliance with environmental regulations to do so. Kurt Strasser evaluates these claims in this timely and cutting-edge inquiry.

Chapter 3: Why Business Environmentalism is Important to Environmental Policy

Kurt A. Strasser

Subjects: business and management, corporate social responsibility, environment, corporate social responsibility, environmental law, law - academic, company and insolvency law, environmental law


Voluntary business programs have a mixed environmental performance record; why should we continue to pursue them with environmental policy? Are they really likely to be an important tool in the environmental policy maker’s kit in the future? This chapter will argue that, despite their mixed record so far, voluntary business programs can be important policy tools and we should continue to pursue and develop them. The toolkit needs some additional tools, and voluntary business environmental programs, even with all their limitations, have the potential to develop into useful ones. Additional tools are surely needed. First, traditional regulation will not be enough; we cannot regulate our way to sustainability. Our institutions can make and enforce only so many rules; indeed, the complexity of our present regulatory system causes real concern that we may be approaching a point of diminishing returns for additional regulations now, even though much more environmental protection is critically needed. While the potential for further progress from traditional regulatory programs is likely limited, newly discovered environmental problems, as well as the need for continuing effort on long recognized ones we have been working on, demand that we do more. The scale and scope of social transformation required to move our societies toward sustainability is great. New policy tools, as well as other social motivations, will be needed. Second, not only is the need for greater environmental consciousness and protection more pressing than ever in order to move toward sustainability, but responding to it will require more than just...

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