Green Business, 2006

Joel Makower at GreenBiz.com has written up what he believes to be the Top Green Business Stories of 2006 . The list — full of hyperlinks to news items — makes great reading.

Here’s Joel’s list (minus his commentary):

  • 1. Wal-Mart Goes from Zero to Hero
  • 2. Alt-Fuel Vehicles Get in Gear
  • 3. Carbon Neutral Brings Hope and Hype
  • 4. Financial Sector Takes on Climate
  • 5. Investors Flex Their Muscle on Climate
  • 6. Renewables Become the New Recycled
  • 7. Water Rises as a Business Issue — and Opportunity
  • 8. Computer Industry Plugs in to Green
  • 9. Green Chemicals Become Supercritical
  • 10. Green Becomes an Engine of Growth

I have just two quick points to add.
First, several of the stories are about major institutional players (insurance companies, investment banks, etc.) who’ve decided to go green. This is significant in its own right, but is probably also noteworthy as an indicator of how serious certain environmental problems have become: insurance companies and investment banks don’t operate on the basis of guess-work. If they’re on the move, there’ve gotta be good reasons.

Second, what’s motivating all this? A newfound-but-heartfelt love of green, open spaces on the part of corporate execs? Well, probably not. But does it matter? Guessing (or worrying about) the motives of corporations is a lot like guessing/worrying about the motives of politicians. On just that topic: I heard an environmentalist being inverviewed on CBC radio this morning, about his attempts to lobby the Canadian Prime Minister’s office on environmental issues. The reporter asked what he thought motivated the Prime Minister’s new interest in the environment, to which the environmentalist responded (and I’m quoting from memory here), “A political party’s job is to get elected. If I worried about what motivated politicians, I basically would never speak to them. My job is to make sure that the state of the environment improves.”

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