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Finding a way through the green fog

Many businesses of all sizes, plus organisations like Councils, have been declaring a “Climate Emergency” as a response to their environmental concerns. So as one who is as keen as the next person to jump on a bandwagon when it’s passing, I’ve been asking our members whether we should being doing likewise.

Their response has been interesting and close to unanimous that we should not declare an emergency, but rather find out more about what business can do, what the options are and how best to make a contribution whilst keeping the economy growing at the same time.

You will be hard pressed to find business people who don’t want to do the right thing. They have high moral standards and a vested interest in the long term success of the planet on which they operate. But, to mix my metaphors, such is the blizzard of stories about catastrophic global warming that it can be difficult to see the wood for the trees.

Where do you start ? You could approach it at the micro level, such as doing your bit by changing to low energy light bulbs. Some years ago we had been active in encouraging shopkeepers to shut their doors to keep the heat in, but many of them said customers would think they were closed.

Sceptics say tiny actions here will be pointless compared to the huge industrial activity in the likes of China and India. There also appears to be disagreement among the scientific community. Is it better for the planet to stop eating red meat, as some would maintain, or would the consequences of doing that be worse, as others argue ? Add in the politicisation of the subject and you end up with a swirling green mass.

Then move onto another issue, which quite honestly gives business a headache. We have been a regular supporter of the development of Bristol Airport because of the benefits it brings, but aviation is right in the green firing line. There is an argument that says flying from a local airport avoids a longer car journey, and so reduces overall emissions. But some companies have actually stopped taking any domestic flights, instead taking the train. They accept it takes longer, and costs more, with overnight stays, but they say it’s worth it. I’m not sure how many companies would share that point of view.

What we will be trying to do is to work out what four or five key initiatives business could adopt to make a difference and at the same time to stick to our belief that creating sustainable economic growth is the right thing to do because it will benefit the whole community. Wish us luck !

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