This week we are treated to this:
Eric Bettleheim, environmental and financial markets expert, and distinguished Rochester alum, gave a guest lecture in one of my classes. His topic, which I found particularly stimulating, was the reality of corporate social responsibility, or CSR. CSR is defined as “the duty a corporation has to create wealth by using means that avoid harm to, protect, or enhance societal assets” and has three components: market forces, mandated social programs, and voluntary social programs.
These kinds of experiences provided significant support for his point that CSR and environmental governance sometimes just utilize words to avoid instead of absorb externalities.
His key point seemed to be that ultimately, the threat of climate change and resource depletion needs a large-scale movement similar to the one that formed in opposition to the Vietnam War. Global cooperation is necessary to enact meaningful change. He stressed that the typical time scale may be too long. The fossil fuel industry is huge, and will fight off any significant change for years and years.
Same tired canard. It’s nauseating to watch the green movement use language like this wholly ignorant of the fact, yes fact, that it does the same exact thing. This little nifty post being a perfect example. We need Vietnam War era opposition to prevent resource depletion? I have a solution – it’s called property and prices. No riots or Kent State’s required. And as for the climate change thingy, well, let’s just say that our esteemed Mr. Bettleheim is surely above board on all of this, right? After all, this is what his website tells us:
He is a Founder and was Executive Chairman of Sustainable Forestry Management (SFM) Ltd, from 1999 to 2009.Â He established SFM as a private group of companies dedicated to realising value from the ethical and sustainable use of tropical and sub-tropical forests including the environmental services which they provide. Eric is widely regarded as a leading pioneer in the development of forest and land-use carbon market policy and investment. He has worked extensively with private, public and non-governmental institutions to promote investment throughout the developing world to provide sustainable livelihoods in restored and preserved forest ecosystems.
Right, and surely there is no profit to be had from the development of carbon regulations that promote offsets as a mitigation strategy. It would be nice in a short blurb on social responsibility and ethics for someone to recognize this potential conflict of interest. Or is it the case that only BP speaks and does different things?