I don’t normally post articles but this one from Ed Gillespie really does strike at the heart of why conventional consultancy, CSR and Corporate Sustainability are NOT going to cut it. And a call for a new approach that is urgently needed…
“After two decades in sustainability consulting what I fear is that we are not only failing to change much, but that as consultants we are actually part of the problem, providing a polished positional cover for what is broadly business as usual incremental change, whilst simultaneously eroding both the edge and substance of the essential radical shift that is really needed. The public licence to operate is sustained. Its our collective futures which are eroded. Brad Zarnett’s entertaining piece to this effect sums it up nicely: ‘Cheerleading for sustainable companies won’t save the planet’.
I don’t need to remind everyone that the situation we’re in has become consistently worse over my so called ‘career’. And the dynamic relationship between client and consultant is at the heart of that. It all starts with the brief. Clients are never likely to be Christmas-voting turkeys. Even as the world literally burns and salmon ‘boil’ in the sea, the squaring of the vicious climate change circ
le is still beyond us. I have felt this viscerally since the previous IPCC report in 2018, which wrenched me brutally from my own complacency, complicity and my own company, and the latest report merely compounds that grim ‘code red’ realisation. As far as I am aware no client has yet issued the agency brief to ‘make us genuinely zero carbon’.
Instead we are mired in the delusional sophistry of ‘Net Zero’, or ‘Not Zero’ as we might more mischievously put it. Not only are most corporate Net Zero strategies highly dependent on either offsetting, largely through tree planting or forest conservation with often ‘carbon colonialism’ overtones, or nascent carbon drawdown technologies not yet proven or workable or at a realistic price, but they are also predicated on increasing the lean efficiency of existing business models — which remain mainly unquestioned.
Ed Gillespie is a writer, poet, environmentalist, serial entrepreneur and futurist.