Wednesday, 23 August 2006

Walking the Talk

Two weeks ago, Craig Smith wrote an editorial for the Financial Times about BP's recent woes. In it he argued that it is not enough for companies to say that they are socially responsible. They have to prove it in their everyday actions.

This is definitely true when it comes to tackling climate change. Businesses were directly responsible for about 28% of the UK's greenhouse gas emissions last year. We're not going to make much progress reducing emissions unless more businesses decide to take action.

What about the rest of us? After all, those business emissions are, indirectly, our emissions. Most of those businesses are simply making stuff that people buy and use. And a whopping 47% of emissions come from the transport and residential sectors. That's you and me, choosing how to get to work and heat our homes.

So are we both "talking the talk" and "walking the walk"? A recent survey tells me we're not there yet. While 56% of people want companies to source environmentally friendly products, only 28% admit to doing so themselves. 41% demand that employers use "green electricity", but only 8% of respondents claim to have made the switch. (In fact, the market share for green electricity is quite a bit lower than even this number.)

What's going on? I think many people simply think the cost is too high. Switching electricity suppliers or shopping around for eco-friendly products takes time and effort, and everyone is busy. Giving up that hard-earned holiday flight to Spain may be too painful. Big companies can hire someone to improve their environmental footprint, but the average consumer has to do it himself or herself. As a result, many people either ignore the problem, or go around with a guilty cloud over their heads.

Carbon Clear's motto is "Modern Living Needn't Cost the Earth". We're not about guilt, we're about making it easy for people to take the first steps to reduce their global warming impact. Let's work together to take the first steps. We'll be setting up a page that helps you patronise businesses that have already gone Carbon Clear. And please let us hear from you with ideas and suggestions. Remember, reduce what you can, and clear the rest with Carbon Clear.

(Link to Carbon Clear homepage)