Opinions

CMS DeBacker GREENLAW forum on the droit profitable

It was with great interest that I read the article in the CMS DeBacker GREENLAW forum on the “droit profitable”. Discussions concerning the commitment needed from the legal but also the economic, social, and political worlds about the promotion of a more sustainable growth are urgent. The most recognized definition given to sustainable development is the that given by the Report of the Brundtland Commission 1987, “ to meet the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."

The negative impact of unsustainable business on the planet is clearer today than ever, with climate change taking its toll, not forgetting many other environmental issues such as extreme biodiversity loss. As Sir Sterns’ review clearly lays out in regards to the financial and economic impact of global warming, if we delay any longer the problem will get exponentially worst. As the world population rises towards 9 billion and as living standards increase across the globe this will become even truer. Involvement at all levels and a full hearted attempt to take on this challenge and to create a mass movement in which we are all encouraged to work more sustainably is needed more than ever. Short term economic impact and competitive implications make it understandable that there is still some reticence however inaction is not the solution when one considers what is at stake. One day it will be clear to all that we have to act (hopefully it will not be to late!). When this day comes it is the avant-gardes who will reap the benefits of their early action. Others will seek their legal counsel, services, advice, products and technologies. The challenge ahead should be seen as a long term opportunity to create thousands of jobs, stimulate markets, launch new service lines, differentiate products and encourage innovation, entrepreneurial spirit and promote scientific research.

Skeptics in regards to sustainable development and issues such as climate change still exist but they are far and rare between and getting scarcer by the day. With the exception of one or two particularly stubborn individuals few political leaders today question the scientific reality of the human impact on global warming it would be political suicide. The entering Australian government signed the Kyoto Protocol in a record nine days confirming this point. Discussions such as these of how to engage the economic society and how to stimulate them to take action are urgently needed. We now all urgently have to take action if we are going to solve the significant problems that lie ahead. We need to start looking towards creating a sustainable economy. Politicians have to be bold and think well beyond their mandate and move things forward. The “droit profitable” will contribute to this and other sectors will also have to rally to the cause as time is ticking out.

Sustainable business which contributes towards resolving these planetary issues should no longer be seen as non-profit and as marginal eco-warrior stuff. Numerous sources implicate that people as influential as those in the Silicon Valley have taken on this challenge with open arms but also with investing minds. Canny and visionary investors such as Larry Page and Sergey Brin from Google, Elon Musk from PayPal and Sir Richard Branson from Virgin have already put serious financial means towards making things change.

One can read in the conclusion of the Lehman Brothers 2007 report, The Business of Climate, “Those investors and businesses that make the right predictions in terms of climate change policies may be able to anticipate the directions of asset prices and turn climate change and the evolution of climate change policy to their advantage.” To make these opportunities possible and have the first mover advantage we need hard-line policies from the government that encourage us to all move forward. The business world will then naturally seek the most efficient solutions as they have shown in the past that they are the best at doing so. They can then capitalize on there solutions and know how as other policy makers and leaders find themselves in a position where they have no choice but to follow. A good example of how opportunities can come also come out of hard line policies can be found in the carbon market. The carbon market have come on in leaps and bounds since their creation in 2005 and currently represents a market of over €23 billion a year. These markets are also encouraging the development and exportation of all sorts of interesting technologies.

As a social entrepreneur and founder of CO2logic I am relatively well situated to argue that entrepreneurship, innovation, job creation as well as decent financial returns can be made by if proper momentum is given to the concept of sustainable growth. The “droit profitable” and similar approaches in other sectors will shape the business methods used in the world of tomorrow. By all joining together and moving this debate forward we will push each other onwards and create markets, create solutions and new services and opportunities. Our common sustainable goal will create a global drive which will help push forward political decisions and in turn create profitability for early movers in the sustainable business domain.

Tanguy du Monceau
CO2logic
tanguy@co2logic.com
+32 477 80 11 41