– Aron Cramer is the president and CEO of BSR, a global business network and consultancy focused on sustainability. He is also coauthor of the forthcoming book Sustainable Excellence (Rodale 2010). The views expressed are his own. –
(Updated on December 17th to correct figure in McKinsey study in paragraph 7.)
As world leaders seem uncertain about whether a binding treaty is even possible at Copenhagen, it’s important to remember what was already clear: Twelve days in Copenhagen were never going to solve climate change anyway.
No doubt, these negotiations, now extending into 2010, are crucial. The sooner we can seal a global deal to reduce emissions, the sooner we can avoid catastrophic climate change. But as important as the treaty negotiations in Copenhagen’s Bella Centre are, even a successful outcome will be for naught if boardroom decisions and factory processes aren’t reoriented toward a low-carbon future.
To steer the world in that direction, business must change how it operates, with a shift of historic proportions. Otherwise—like the Kyoto Protocol of 1997—a new international climate agreement won’t achieve its goals.
Making this change requires business to focus on innovation, efficiency, mobilization, and collaboration—and that work must start now.