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You mean you expect us to do it?

03 Apr 2024 | OP ED Watch

As the deadlines get ever closer on the green energy transition, companies are discovering that pretending to believe in it has backed them into a corner. They promised to be green, carbon-neutral and virtuous, and now for some strange reason the activists who goaded them into promising it so they’d stop getting pestered are demanding they follow through or something a lot worse than pestering will result. Which in Canada means aggressive anti-trust action against people who thought spouting green boilerplate would exempt them from having actually to do anything.

There’s an old saying that he who would sup with the devil must have a long spoon. And companies might be surprised at how long the reach of a meddlesome sanctimonious state is, and how slippery its reasoning. Blacklock’s reports that:

“Bill C-59 An Act To Implement Certain Provisions Of The Fall Economic Statement rewrites the Competition Act to restrict false environmental claims.”

What has the Competition Act to do with it? Under some circumstances we can imagine existing statutes pertaining to fraud being invoked, if some company told a bare-faced lie. Or customers might stop shopping there, of all repulsively liberty-oriented solutions. Instead companies face the Star Chamber:

“Clause 236.1 of the bill would ban any ‘statement, warranty or guarantee of a product’s benefits for protecting the environment or mitigating the environmental and ecological effects of climate change that is not based on an adequate and proper test, the proof of which lies on the person making the representation.’”

So guilty until proven innocent, and we get to decide what constitutes proof. And given the incredibly lax standards the alarmists apply to prove that everything nice or fun is bad for the climate, good luck getting acquitted. Presumed innocent until accused.

So far it seems that the rewritten bill still really only pertains to products. But the Commissioner of Competition has big green dreams:

“A significant portion of the greenwashing complaints the Competition Bureau receives do not involve claims about products but rather more general or forward looking environmental claims about a business or brand as a whole, e.g. claims about being ‘net zero’ or ‘carbon neutral by 2030’”.

And he wants to give firms a fair trial and a fair hanging:

“While these more general claims may not be amenable to ‘testing’ like product performance claims, business should at least be able to substantiate them if challenged.”

Um how? If you can’t test them, how do you test them?

In the United States, the New York Times “Climate Forward” tries to explain “Why Wall Street firms are flip-flopping on climate”. They’re not happy, of course. David Gelles notes that:

“Many of the world’s biggest financial firms spent the past several years burnishing their environmental images by pledging to use their financial muscle to fight climate change. Now, Wall Street has flip-flopped. In recent days, giants of the financial world, including JPMorgan, State Street and Pimco, have pulled out of a group called Climate Action 100+, an international coalition of money managers that was pushing big companies to address climate issues.”

Boo Republicans, of course:

“Wall Street’s retreat from earlier environmental pledges has been on a slow, steady path for months, particularly with Republicans beginning withering political attacks, saying the investment firms were engaging in ‘woke capitalism.’”

But if they were, and then stopped, presumably there’s some reason for it. And not every company in the United States is part of the GOP. Indeed an investment firm like BlackRock, “the world’s largest asset manager”, seemed distinctly liberal in its preferences. So what happened? Well, reality:

“The reasons behind the burst of activity reveal how difficult it is proving to be for the business world to make good on its promises to become more environmentally responsible. While many companies say they are committed to combating climate change, the devil is in the details.”

He then finds a cynical professor to denounce their characters:

“‘This was always cosmetic,’ said Shivaram Rajgopal, a professor at Columbia Business School.”

But was it? Think who works in these firms, especially their PR and DEI divisions. Young, urban, east-and-west coast, leftist. They really believed, and senior management was at least willing to give it a try. The problem is, it didn’t work. And they weren’t getting as much cooperation as harassment from the enemies they tried to make friends. As Gelles also writes:

“American asset managers have a fiduciary duty to act in the best interest of their clients, and the financial firms were worried that a new strategy by Climate Action 100+ could expose them to legal risks.”

And speaking of antitrust, since nobody has ever managed to repeal the Law of Unintended Consequences, another problem was that:

“In addition to the risk that some clients might disapprove, and potentially sue, there were other concerns. Among them: that acting in concert to shape the behaviors of other companies could fall afoul of antitrust regulations.”

Oops. Oh, and speaking of cosmetic:

“several of the firms that backed out of Climate Action 100+ said they remained committed to the issue. Aron Cramer, chief executive for BSR, a sustainable-business consultancy, said the Wall Street firms were responding to political pressure, but not abandoning their climate commitments altogether.”

Just the ones where you do stuff.

5 comments on “You mean you expect us to do it?”

  1. There is no single class of people more cowardly than the CEOs of publicly traded companies!

  2. "Which in Canada means aggressive anti-trust action against people who thought spouting green boilerplate would exempt them from having actually to do anything."
    And the worst offender in all of Canada would be the Prime Minister who's carbon footprint is larger than the average city.
    Closely followed by all Liberal and NDP elected representatives.

  3. This woke,destructive Green agenda forced on companies often places them between a rock and a hard place.They're damned if they do,and damned if
    they don't.Lawfare from Eco-extremists on one side,or lost clients or even lawsuits on the other side.We have to get rid of Democrats and the Liberals.

  4. When Business schools all teach that rent seeking and epistemological mush disguised as ESG, DEI, CRT, and the cult of 51 genders is how corporations respond to their "stakeholders" replacing those pesky "shareholders", capitalism is no longer in play. It's now more closely resembling Mussolini's fascism.

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