Monday, 5 June 2017

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By V K Talithaya

"The global landscape is changing. Digital is creating world-changing innovations, but also disrupting industry and how people work. At the same time, economic nationalism is rising around the world, largely resulting from parts of society not benefiting from years of increased globalization. Sustainability has also evolved. Business must now lead and not depend on government to be a beacon for sustainability. We must think about what types of jobs and opportunities they are creating for society."
                          -  Jeffrey R. Immelt, Chairman & CEO, GE
President Donald Trump has done it! He has decided to walk away from the Paris Climate Change Agreement (the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change - UNFCCC). President Trump believes that his concern is Pittsburgh and not Paris. He is the President of the United States and not of the world. But is he? Can the US President stay aloof from the world? No matter how much the President of the United States wants to shrink from the world, the world seems to be unstoppable from engulfing him. North Korea, Syria, Afghanistan, IS - the global concerns of the President are not something he can coolly walk away from.
The President may be too eager to abdicate from global leadership. But the US can and needs to still retain some aspects of global leadership. That onerous responsibility lies on the shoulders the managers of US industries. They have a chance to keep US leadership in the global economy. If their commitment to sustainability, limiting greenhouse gas, waste reduction etc. mean anything at all, they have a duty to ask themselves whether they want to limit themselves to government policies (including taking advantage of them) or to their stated policies.

"We believe in building a responsible cloud. For Microsoft, this means moving beyond datacenters that are already 100 per cent carbon neutral to also having those datacenters rely on a larger percentage of wind, solar, and hydro power electricity over time".  

Governments make policies which enable environmental protection. But those who have to act to make it happen are the industries, the farmers, the service providers and so on. Therefore, no matter what the government says, whether the government owns the Paris Accord or disowns it, we as industries operating in the global market have the responsibility of contributing to mitigating global warming. It is to these little drops of contribution by US industries that the world will be looking forward to, in the face of a government which has disowned its duty to the future of humanity. It is the managers of America's GMs and Fords, GEs and DuPonts, Microsofts and Googles who really have to make it happen. This commitment goes far beyond the legal and justiciable - it is a moral commitment.
"Proucing environmentally conscious products is ethically responsible and something that consumers and governments are beginning to demand. Corporations are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of environmental issues to consumers, additionally they have become aware of the importance of environmental issue to their shareholders as disregarding these issues may expose the company to risk."  
A look at GM's environment policy reveals the corporation's intent to restore and preserve the environment, reduce waste, educate the public on conservation, develop less polluting technologies, work with the government to develop environmental laws, and to also continually assess and improve the environmental impact of their processes and products. Elon Musk's deep concern about climate change is well known. He and Bob Iger, Disney's CEO, walked away from the Presidential Councils in protest against the President's decision to dump the Paris accord. Others like Jeffery Immelt, CEO of GE clearly articulated their views that the Paris Accord matters for the future generations. Happily twelve states, including California and New York and 125 cities have proclaimed, "We Are Still In" - that they are committed to the Paris Accord. Google and Facebook have joined these cities in pledging their support to the Accord. It is hoped that many more US industries will lend their support.  All these provide the hope to a beleaguered world that the US industries will be on the side of the future. Their managers have great responsibility, indeed. The world is awaiting with bated breath.      

By V K Talithaya
vktalithaya@managementmasala.com
On 6/05/2017

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