Friday, 26 September 2008

Greening the city

The 39th floor of a glass tower in docklands is perhaps not the most obvious venue for a debate on sustainability but it was quite an eye opener. For example, it was sobering to hear that the price of carbon is widely expected to reach 40 Euros within the next few years - resulting in bills of billions for large businesses. But that's not nearly so alarming as the view that the current economic meltdown has pushed sustainability off the radar for most blue chip companies.

Economic crises come and go, but irreversible changes in the planet's balance are happening now and will continue to happen irrespective of share prices and interest rates. And companies without carbon abatement programmes are simply burning money - increasingly so, as energy prices rise. This is no time to take our eye off the ball.

For the most part, though, the speakers at the Boardroom Edge-backed event presented compelling and well-formed arguments to support the greening of business, not merely for altruistic tree-hugging reasons but because it makes good commercial sense. It helps us to run leaner businesses, attract the best talent and compete more effectively. It finally seems that carbon is firmly on the corporate agenda, and this time for sound commercial reasons. Now the challenge is to dismantle the conventional business structures so we don't have to occupy huge glass monoliths in order to demonstrate the size and stability of our businesses.

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