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 7: Business Environmentalism and Climate Change – the Elephant in the Room

Kurt A. Strasser

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


1 Climate change is the signature environmental issue of our time. The potential effects are so far reaching that we have trouble even seriously contemplating how to deal with them. Further, the range of potential impacts is quite varied, and we have only limited knowledge of the probabilities of either more benign or more severe effects. A meaningful policy response will require more of governments, business, individuals and civil society generally than anything that has ever been done to protect the environment. To date, ambitious first steps have been tried under the Kyoto Protocol, although the results have been mixed and a lack of participation by the US and large developing countries has undercut the effort. If future successful responses are politically and technologically possible, they will change the way we operate our economy and our civil society for the US and for most of the world.2 The scope of the issue and the challenges it presents cannot be overstated. For business environmentalism, and indeed all environmentalism, climate change is the central issue. Given the scale and scope of contemporary concerns with climate change, business environmentalism that does not address it seriously, and feature it prominently, will simply not be credible environmental protection efforts. Yet, for many in the US business community, climate change is a new and still somewhat contested issue, one that has dramatically increased in prominence only in the last few years, and many business environmental programs are still struggling to catch up and formulate their responses....

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