Sustainability: A look back at 2010 and ahead to 2011
For the planet, was 2010 the best of times or the worst of times? It’s hard to say, but last year probably says a lot more about where we are going than where we have been:
We hate oil again…
BP’s massive disaster made plenty of folks rethink their relationship with oil. But lets face it: the love/hate meter will tip more heavily towards the hate category as gasoline heads towards $4 per gallon. Even for those who don’t worry about sovereign debt, the environment, or climate change, high mileage will again be cool.
…and love trees.
The need for protecting forest was one of the few areas where most countries were broadly in agreement at the UN talks in Cancun. Brazil’s Amazon Fund has led to a the significant decline in deforestation, without sacrificing economic opportunity. Significant progress also made in other large forest ‘repositories’ such as Indonesia and Canada.
Industry pushes an environmental agenda…
Procter & Gamble and Wal Mart have established scorecards for their vendors, Target pushed recycling stations for all stores, and just about every consumer facing company announced a green initiative — everything from sustainable seafood (Marriott) to reduced packaging for Winnie the Pooh (Disney).
…but consumers remain skeptical.
Recent studies have shown large gaps between perception and reality for when it comes to sustainability action. Some of the largest consumer brands such as Kraft and General Mills are significantly less green then they appear, sustainability data remains un-credible, and many corporate claims/targets for zero waste, climate neutral, and green are both long range and highly dubious.
Voluntary efforts give way to mandatory programs…
While neither the UN nor the Senate made much progress in climate legislation, a host of mandatory environmental actions emerged, including a landmark emissions reduction and cap and trade law in California , new EPA automobile mileage requirements, municipal bans on plastic bags, FTC guidelines on eco-labelling, and looming EPA regulation
…but a backlash may be coming.
The recent election revealed growing skepticism in government, which too often fails to protect our interests. Not all environmental protections are easy or free, and as hidden environmental costs are replaced with government mandated real costs, expect to see skeptics receive more air time, and possibly even an anti-sustainability movement take shape.
How do you think 2010 shaped up? Take the poll below!
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