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Consultant Dan

Dan Cass has been a public speaker and commentator on sustainability issues for 20 years.

This blog, ‘Consultant Dan, was started in 2010.

It includes Dan’s articles since 2010 which were published by mainstream outlets such as The Guardian Australia, The Drum (ABC Online), The Age, Renew Economy as well as posts published solely at this blog.

28.10.2014

Shared value, climate change and renewable energy

Global warming is the biggest challenge facing the world, in the sense that if we don’t prevent extreme global warming, then the environment will be so adverse that we will not be able to solve any major problems.

Can shared value really make a difference, and help stop global warming?

I want to research this question through my affiliation with the University of Sydney, focusing on the renewable energy industry.

I gave a presentation about my ideas on this topic to the Sydney Environment Institute’s BERN initiative at the Sydney Business School, which you can watch here.

Here are some extracts from my paper:

I have spent more than twenty years trying to understand and change the politics of global warming and sustainability. It is time to reflect critically on our failure to win the global warming debate over the past two decades. It is also necessary to update our approach, to take into account the rise of cost competitive renewable energy.

In this paper I want to bridge corporate social responsibility and the politics of clean energy transformation.

My thesis is that there are a handful of pro-wind and solar organisations around the world, which institutionalise a powerful new approach to solving the climate crisis. They fuse the interests of wind companies and climate NGOs to create a new dynamic in the political economy.

…The central obstacle to strategic change in the energy market is regulatory failure. Whilst it is profitable to generate coal-fired electricity, it is seemingly impossible to replace it entirely with clean energy.

…In the introductory pages of Porter and Kramer’s key, 2011 article in Harvard Business Review, they seemed to be saying that shared value should replace regulation. Regulation is passe, undesirable and only implemented by politicians for base, populist reasons; they write ‘diminished trust in business leads political leaders to set politics that undermine competitiveness’ (Porter and Kramer 2011: 4).

In my view, these sections of Porter and Kramer’s article are the weakest. They read more like rhetorical flourishes, than sincere, reasoned arguments. Thankfully, in the article’s sidebar about ‘Government regulation and Shared value’, they write that good regulations ‘enhance shared value’ because they ‘create a level playing field to encourage companies to invest in shared value rather than maximise short-term profit’ (Porter and Kramer 2011: 14).

Do you think shared value can transform the energy sector and help us stop global warming?

Please let me know what you think, in comments or by contacting me directly.

This was first published at the Shared Value Initiative.

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