Thursday, August 30, 2007

World Bank & HSBC Investing In Deforestation?

Having put themselves forward as the world's leading 'green' bank, the HSBC, in compliance with the World Bank no less, and the Royal Bank of Scotland, amongst others; and having put themselves up on a 'green' pedestal to be shot at; seem to be taking every opportunity to provide people with ammunition.

This article, from Greenpeace, provides what appears to be fairly substantial evidence that the World Bank have heavily invested in, and HSBC and the Royal Bank of Scotland provide financial services, to a business, 'Olam International', who are accused of illegal logging activities. These activities are directly contradictory to HSBC's much vaunted and publicly stated policy on forestry.

As the article states:- "If financial institutions put their money quite literally where their mouth is, they can force companies to adopt more responsible practices - without investment, companies like Olam can't continue to make vast profits from environmental destruction. "

Sorry, but if you want to crow about being green, then you cannot possibly be seen to be supporting or providing services to a business involved in illegal logging operations.
Nuff said!

ADDENDUM (from Junkk Male) - Climate change and the environment: UK business turns a paler shade of green

No excuse, but a reason may be the simple inevitability of massive organisation's structures. A cock-up is inevitable. That said, how the ethos has not been expressed and hence pervaded every pore by now, especially after £25M external comms in the UK alone, begs the question as to whether what they say is the same as what they feel... and hence do.

Trading post

Eco-innovation again. This time on carbon trades/offsets.

I played a part, but one post realy nails it well, I feel.

I hope it's OK to share it here:

Changing people's habits is a very complicated task. We can all speak
for ourselves in this point.

Certainly, saving money or making money is one of the most effective
arguments to get people moving towards a goal. Sometimes, even more
effective than necessity, logic, or intelligence.

In that sense, putting individuals into the Carbon Market is a very
interesting and creative concept. But what's the gain in these
cell-phone products besides the yearly

Nothing against making profit. Sustainable, green businesses are the solution!

But let's see how this business really works: Each individual gets
US$30 a year, some peace of mind, and an argument to talk about the
environment. The cell phone companies will have a new product, a few
millions, and a green marketing campaign. And the carbon market system
will just be less, and less effective. So what's up for the

And what is this premise that people would be "on the road in a car
putting loads of CO2"? If I walk 2 blocks for groceries I'll be
entitled for carbon credits??? Is it so much more natural to choose
the car than the bike?

What we're seeing in these products is that it's easier to make profit
with global warming than to actually deal with it.

And that's precisely the problem with the carbon market itself. Is it
a palliative, or is it just a new, interesting business opportunity?
Obviousely, alone, it is not a solution. And certainly, it needs more
regulation before carbon ends up as another highly over-rated
commodity in some emerging country's stock market bubble.

Symbolic, Shambolic

A poster on the Eco-innovation blog asked what some IKEA box symbols meant. I may not have been much help:

They're a sure sign that with waste and almost all to do with saving the planet, the process is too often usually more important than the result, symbolized by things going round and round in circles. It doesn't matter if the consumer doesn't have a clue what these things mean or what they can do to help mitigate their inevitable participation in the waste generation process, so long as the manufacturer and/or retailer meet some standards, rules or regs and at least look like they are trying to make things better. Actually it’s the same for most government/LA/quango efforts too, where bazzillions are blown telling us to recycle but few coordinated systems are provided to allow the public to do so sensibly or indeed share what can (or jar or bottle...) go where. All inspired mainly by bonus-driven targets of questionable enviROI, and way too often enforced by threats. I often stop to help folk standing in front of a skip with ‘PEP & HDPE (1-??) only’ written on the side to tell 'em the first is usually a fizzy pop bottle and the second is, or maybe isn't, the other stuff. Probably with a surveillance squad in the house opposite in case Fifi, aged 6, puts the wrong box in the slot. Jargon is all. And just what we need to save the planet is another set of complex initiatives. I’m half expecting a CDR attached to my next pack of Smarties to explain the various carbon footprint and air mile labeling schemes on top of the various supermarket opted-in charts, roundels and traffic lights on health. With a CDR on that to explain the best options for dealing with it too. Which I will not have time to get my head around as I cruise the aisles, and hence ignore. But at least it makes for a good CSR story to run an ad campaign on and wave at the legislators. I'd suggest the time may be ripe for actually getting the disposal systems in order from the moment anything comes out the ground to the point we try and avoid it going back in, with well-spaced process plants, sensible logistical systems, segregation points clearly placed and even more clearly marked and really, really clearly explained and.... a proper incentive programme in place to encourage people to believe it all goes to the right place and makes a big difference. Or, if it doesn't, or can't, be honest enough to explain that too, so folk don't drive their XC90s to the carpark to then find it's off to a Chinese landfill and get disillusioned. Treat the environment and its proactive initiatives as branded items or services to ‘sell’ like any other product, and not some complicated dirty chore with secret stuff only those ‘in the know’ can be allowed to deal with, and there may be a better level of engagement. And if a recycling option isn't ready yet, try reuse (Plug: is ready to share or take your suggestions on what to do with just about anything destined for the bin, which may enjoy another life). I've dallied with this arena a while, and didn't really even know what the first two meant other than 'something to do with recycling’. Or care too much anyway if no one can be bothered to help me understand easily. I just figure if it's a primary packaging material it should be and can be recyclable by now (and, while interesting and nifty, doubt I have ever bought anything or not because its pack is made from recycled materials, though it seems worthy to do and hence advise), so stick cardboard, glass, metal and probably even the odd wrong plastic in whatever doorstep box or supermarket container that comes my way. I think the 3rd symbol means you can turn the thing into a BBQ pit, and the last a Step Reebok stand, but I may be wrong:)