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Spineless Dems Abandon Carbon Bill: What Does this Mean for CSR?

Chicago Tribune

In a year where we’ve seen the largest oil spill in American history, the decimation of a tourist economy in the Gulf of Mexico, and oh yeah, and some of the most sweltering temperatures in cities from Chicago to Boston, the Democrats have scrapped any immediate plans to put a price on carbon emissions.

Sadly, this decision has been made in the face of four socio-economic realities of the moment:

  1. The White House’s fear of losing significant ground at the midterm in November (isn’t this already a certainty?)
  2. Crude oil’s surprisingly flat position over the past year — currently at $78.69/barrel
  3. Lindsey Graham’s about face
  4. Abysmal job growth.

The EU, Australia and recently China, all have plans in motion to make drastic policy prescriptions to mitigate carbon emissions and stimulate long-term green energy investments. American government has shown little resolve on energy beginning with the dud it fired on Copenhagen late last year. So, what now?

How will the government’s inaction on energy reform affect CSR, which to a large extent has been strategically focused on carbon intensity reduction ahead of anticipated government intervention? As my colleague Emily DeMasi discussed in her post on CSR’s core role in society, government protects people unconditionally and the corporation protects people when it is in its best interest.

So, what happens when government fails as in the current moment? Can we rely on CSR to actually push the needle with respect to combating our emission problem?

What’s certain is a vacuum for leadership on energy reform exists. Perhaps this is a moment for greater human capital investment in CSR leadership to get ahead of the government and restore innovation and  integrity to American business.

Written by Lane Jost

A lifelong conservationist, angler, gardener and writer, Lane is a Corporate Responsibility strategy consultant based in Chicago, where he currently works a CR consultant for PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

Prior to joining PwC, Lane was a global sustainability performance and stakeholder engagement specialist for Sodexo North America. He has experience in microfinance program evaluation at Grameen Foundation. A former President of the Net Impact Chapter at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), Lane has a master's in International Development Economics from the School of International Relations and Pacific Studies at UCSD (IR/PS) and a bachelor's in history and international studies from Kenyon College. Prior to working in the sustainable business sphere, Lane spent six years as a communications and marketing professional focusing on arts and culture in New York City, where his work included the creation of the jazz website gothamjazz.com and serving as the publicist for the New York Philharmonic.

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