Ethics and good intentions aren’t always enough (putting it mildly!) to guarantee good behaviour. And so we have regulations. What happens when a political leader comes to power promising to eliminate what many think are well-thought-out regulations? Should businesses celebrate? If business leaders happen believe in their hearts that the regulations are, all things considered, good, should they stick to their values, or focus entirely on the bottom line and take advantage of newly-created opportunities for profit? >>>
LINK: How should companies respond to populist politics? (by Toby Webb at Sustainability = Smart Business)
…Then comes the bigger question for large companies who have made public commitments to sustainability. This is, simply, how do we respond to the new political environment? That’s the strategy question. The tactical questions then come thick and fast afterwards.
For example, if the Paris Agreement on climate change is kiboshed by a Trump administration, what does that mean for company climate targets and advocacy?
If political ideology leads to more gas fracking, more coal and a short term approach to “cheaper” energy, (it’s only cheaper if you don’t factor in real and dangerous externalities) what does that mean for your policies and practices around renewables?
If political appointees cancel laws that protect human rights, or gut institutions designed to defend them, how do you respond as a company?…
What do you think?
So often, business and government treat profits and sustainability as competing goods. Don’t get me wrong, profits are nice – but any serious cost-benefit analysis will always put long-term sustainability over short-term profits, particularly in the context of climate change. In order for businesses to avoid the temptation to relax their consciences in the wake of relaxed regulations, we must have a clear commitment to reality in the form of actually counting the costs and benefits before we make such decisions.