Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Gee, eight guys talking. And some.

Warm words won't save us

I am interested, and hence would value any others' views, on the relative merits of what gets hyped, talked about... and actually addressed, for anything other than political, activist or ratings-driven agendas.

For instance, the other day I stumbled across what seemed to me an extraordinary discrepancy in positive climate word vs. deed, or effort vs. result, in the form of the launch of Cool Earth

Now, I stand ready to be persuaded otherwise, but if a years' worth of deforestation is responsible for a greater CO2 consequence (in terms of absorption) than the entire pollution (a mate of mine has pointed out that word seems to have been dropped in favour of 'emissions', with consequentially rosier allusions) created by the USA, then surely this warrants a serious mention at least? Or at least decent debate?

Or are we going to keep on with all this faffing about, arguing about who says what, with the big stuff locked in inertia and eco-chancers making capital out of sideshows?

I truly wish for clear leadership, and non-agenda-skewed information, based on genuine enviROIs, such that I can make decisions and act to improve my kids' future chances.

BBC - How Gr8 is G8?

Interesting word, Wind. It can mean so many things.

There is the cool breeze. The less welcome result of combining beer, beans and a teenager. Or, of course, when pronounced and applied differently it can be a verb, as in 'to wind up'.

Change is in the wind as business climate turns green

Next week, courtesy of one of the speakers (David North of Tesco - to whom I am most grateful for the invitation), I have a rare opportunity to be present as a guest at one of these rarefied events: the Guardian Climate Change Summit.

Sadly, I missed the one referred to above. It will be interesting to see how they compare, or at least how my views tally with those of the correspondent responsible for this piece.

It's an interesting one, because it seems to be trying to be a few things at once, at least beyond the facts. In part supportive, and justifiably positive about genuine initiatives, but also in part pretty cautious, lest the promises fall short in the cold, hard light of subsequent days.

Frankly I am not sure what to expect next week, and will look forward to what I hope is a good opportunity to network, learn and contribute. I will of course be sharing it all here.

This Guardian piece is, at least, a fair preparation. It seems unlikely that those attending the same conference as I am will be much different to the other one, though on current evidence there are a heck of a lot of conferences with a heck of a lot of folk tasked to attend them, with titles to match. How "Junkk Male/Big 'Ed" will fit with "head of climate change" or "head of environmental management" or "climate change leader" remains to be seen. I think I will have to bite my lip and resist the temptation, at least with the climate change variety, and not ask them to confirm that they are least tasked with 'heading', or 'leading' it in a positive direction. Or just how far from the boardroom table where the money decisions get made they actually are.

There is no doubting it has indeed become a big issue for such as consumer brands, but I do note and also understand the scepticism created, after all that has been expended to date, of just 14% admitting to having a clear strategy for tackling the issue, while many fund managers saw companies primarily motivated by a desire to get "the green fraternity off their backs". Ouch.

And then there is the vast industry that exists to feed of this... concern... which I'm still trying to identify (ie: sincerely tackling the issue, or getting folk off various backs?). Just one 'consultancy' has a staff of 3,000! Doing what? I feel my ROI eyebrow raising to match the enviROI one here. If it is all about opportunity, I would dearly love to know how that is defined in terms of what gets spent to make my kids' future better. And I'd like to ask such as Jonathan Porritt, but he has yet to return my calls. Too busy? No money in it? Who can tell? Shame, as they are but a few miles away and I'd love to swap notes.

I was surprised at the research that indicated almost three in four British families would boycott firms that do not take real steps to cut their environmental impact. Really? I care a lot, but a boycott against a failure to act with 'real' steps, whatever they are. What is the measure? And, practically, if your local is Morrisons, are you going to go to the Tesco in the next town over just because 'a step' is not so good in comparison? I don't get it. And hence I don't trust it... or like it. Smacks of more no-people scoring fees to stir already very murky waters.

And, yet again, packaging seems the thrust when, as noted in recent blogs, I really have my doubts as to what significance it, or several other much-hyped 'issues' have vs. such as deforestation.

Maybe someone I'll bump into will be able to tell me, and in a way that makes me believe them. I hope so.

Musings from a mall

Time for a picture I feel. And as the new Olympic logo seems to need a health warning to view, let's go with one I made before the blog.

I just felt like pondering a few bits of advertising and promotion, starting with the Toyota Prius ad: Toyota ordered to drop TV commercial for hybrid vehicle

Why do 'they' do this? It's a perfectly reasonable car, with a pretty fair story to support its USP (hybrid), but they just have to go and blow the trust factor by trying to squeeze a silly set of stats out to look like it will solve climate change just by driving around all day, emitting away.

Then there's the new Tesco ad. I like it (shock horror). Makes the point, which I hope is a good one. I refer to their new local milk initiative. Now, there are some questions I'd like reassuring on (please let it be that there is a genuine enviROI to the food miles story, and it's not just a bit of natty marketing smoke and mirrors), but in addition to a nice bit of comedy theatre I now know (well, to the best of my knowledge), that I can buy milk in a local store that is produced locally. I just hope the consumer is not going to get stung too badly for going greener, and the farmers get a fair price, too. On balance a step in the right direction, with win-wins all round if done with genuine intent. With an ad like this I can't see the consumers not responding.

And finally, I come to the example pictured above. One of my local clothing outlets has some kind of a thing where you support trees by buying stuff. I haven't looked at it too carefully and perhaps should not comment without doing so. But to this consumer, I can't see it as being that big an incentive, and the fact the place was festooned with flyers and posters and cards blathering on about it all, seemed a tad contradictory at best. Actually, I have a certain view that the whole waste paper thing is not as chronic as made out, but symbolically this came across as more of a bit of excess CSR promo window-dressing (geddit?) than a serious attempt to go green.

Guardian - Easyjet attack on green Virgin Train ads fails - kinda speaks for itself