Green initiatives are ubiquitous these days, implemented with zeal at companies like Dupont, IBM, Walmart, and Walt Disney. The programs being rolled out -- lighting retrofits, zero-waste factories, and carpool incentives -- save money and provide a green glow. Most large companies are working to reduce energy use and waste, and many have integrated sustainability into strategic planning. What’s not to like?
Well, for starters, these actions don’t meaningfully address the primary barrier to sustainability, climate change. According to the International Energy Agency, without action, global temperatures will likely increase 6 degrees C by 2100, “which would have devastating consequences for the planet.” This means more super droughts, floods, storms, fires, crop failures, sea-level rise, and other major disruptions. “Sustainability” simply isn't possible in the face of such a problem, as Superstorm Sandy demonstrated.
So despite perceptions that “sustainable business” is up and running, the environment reminds us we’re failing to deal with the problem at anywhere near sufficient scale.