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Green Laggards: The Business Case for Changing Your Ways

May 12, 2009

Late last year, Ceres came out with a report, Corporate Governance and Climate Change: Consumer and Technology Companies, which rated companies progress on addressing climate risk.

In February,  Ceres and The Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility targeted 48 companies with shareholder resolutions  for their lack of progress on addressing climate change–aimed at improving their focus and attention to the financial risks and opportunities from climate change.

I’v been pondering this list of Green Laggards and wondering what it would take to move them into action.  While trillions of dollars are behind the shareholder resolutions, I don’t think it is enough to get them to integrate sustainability as a core business value. They might offer to do a sustainability report or release a carbon emissions inventory, but that is not enough.

I’v been reviewing some of the key literature on the business case for integrating sustainability into business operations and will be writing more on this in an upcoming piece for www.greenbiz.com. The plutheria of reports have a similar conclusion:  companies commited to corporate sustainability practices are achieving above-average performance in financial markets, even during this slowdown.

Here are some of the most recent reports that detail the business case for going green:

Green Winners by ATKearney

Sustainability Matters by Aberdeen Group

Green is Gold by Goldman Sax (older, but still referenced)

The Responsible and Sustainable Board by Deloitte

Business Case for Climate Protection by Hunter Lovins

Stay tuned for two follow-up pieces I am writing for GreenBiz.com on the business case for going green and advice for new sustainability directors, integrating interviews with Elliot Hoffman of New Voice of Business, Hunter Lovins of Natural Capitalism Solutions and Jay Ogilvy of the Presidio School of Management.

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