In direct contrast to the federal government’s refusal to act against man-made, global climate change, California’s leaders passed landmark legislation yesterday to reduce its level of carbon dioxide emissions by 25% by 2020. According to the New York Times, the deal between the Democratic-controlled Legislature and Republican governor Arnold Schwarzenegger “could establish controls on the largest industrial sectors, including utilities, oil refineries and cement plants.”
Such sweeping changes by the nation’s largest state and the world’s eighth largest economy will have tremendous repercussions throughout the business world.
California’s Chamber of Commerce, which led opposition to the now passed legislation, argued that these new standards would prompt an exodus of industry to states without emission controls and leave California unable to attract new out-of-state businesses.
But far from panicking about new environmental standards, Yale authors Dan Esty and Andrew Winston argue in their forthcoming book, Green to Gold: How Smart Companies Use Environmental Strategy to Innovate, Create Value, and Build Competitive Advantage, that business leaders can instead embrace these standards, and indeed profit from them.
Even as many industries continue to resist change, some leaders, such as Pacific Gas and Electric chairman Peter Darbee, are taking the lead in reversing unsustainable trends. Darbee is quoted by the Times as saying,
“The issue of climate change is important and needs to be dealt with . . . . We need a pragmatic and practical result. Since the bill has a market-based program, it will work efficiently and effectively for businesses.”
With practical suggestions for incorporating environmental thinking into core business strategy and with a clear focus on execution, Esty and Winston offer up a roadmap that companies like PG&E can use to cope with environmental pressures and responsibilities while sparking innovation that will drive long-term growth.
Green to Gold is written for executives at every level and businesses of all kinds. Esty and Winston guide leaders through a complex new world of resource shortfalls, regulatory restrictions, and the growing pressure from outside stakeholders to strive for “sustainability.” While highlighting successful strategies, the authors also examine in depth why environmental initiatives sometimes fail despite the best intentions. Green to Gold will be the new template for global CEOs who want to be good stewards of the Earth while simultaneously building the bottom line.