Huffington Post: Corporations make big climate promises only to retreat after a few years, study finds
Originally found at Huffington Post, by Alexander C. Kaufman
Billionaires, bankers and corporate executives have trumpeted a new era of sustainable capitalism for years, promising that advances in renewable energy and a rising generation of socially conscious tycoons would radically change an economic system addicted to fossil fuels.
But a study published this month in the peer-reviewed Academy of Management Journal found that several big companies that had announced ambitious sustainability goals retreated when profits decreased or top executives changed.
The research tracked five major Australian firms in different sectors over 10 years, examining company reports, media releases and policy statements and conducting more than 70 interviews with senior managers. Between 2005 and 2015, the unnamed companies ― in energy, manufacturing, finance, insurance and media, with workforces ranging from 1,500 to 36,000 employees ― adopted progressive climate policies with much fanfare, only to quietly scale back the efforts in the years that followed.
The findings highlight the limitations of relying on market forces to combat climate change and dangers of allowing corporations beholden to the financial interests of shareholders to shape policy. It suggests the systemic changes scientists say are necessary to avoid the worst effects of warming temperatures will require massive government spending and regulation.
“There’s so much hype about corporate good deeds, corporations will save us,” Christopher Wright, a co-author of the study and professor at the University of Sydney Business School, told HuffPost by phone on Sunday. “It’s so at odds with the reality that it’s pretty frightening.”
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Read the original research in Academy of Management Journal
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