Business response to climate change debate 'locked in Catch-22'

Jun 14 2005 by Nic Paton Print This Article

Governments and businesses are caught in a "Catch-22" when it comes to tackling their response to climate change, with politicians fearing resistance from businesses and businesses feeling hamstrung by a lack of political leadership, a consultancy has suggested.

According to John Blackwell, chief executive of Oxfordshire consultancy JBA, as pressure for action on climate change gathers pace ahead of next month's G8 summit, both politicians and captains of industry need to look at how taking action on climate change can in fact lead to commercial gain.

His call comes just days after trade unions and manufacturers urged British businesses to move away from thinking of sustainable development as inevitably meaning job losses or becoming less competitive.

On top of this, at the end of last month, 13 British and international companies pledged to help the UK government develop a long-term response to climate change and urged Prime Minister Tony Blair to take urgent action.

That initiative was backed by the Prince of Wales' Business and The Environment programme.

But, said Blackwell, many businesses are still unaware of the fact that they can take actions to help reduce climate that will also make them more productive and commercially competitive.

Gains could include as much as 30 per cent from reduced use of office space, 12-15 per cent from more employee effectiveness and 20 per cent from reduced business travel costs, he said.

"If you start beating the lectern and finger waving businesses will accept they need to do something, but because they still have the day job to do it will not resonate," he told Management-Issues.

"But if you can show it can be done on a sustainable basis that has a commercial gain then you do not have to argue it. You will have businesses flocking to the table," he added.