Keynote: Constructive Environmental Scepticism - How exaggerated business fears can affect business

I propose to make an argument to business analysts about environmental pressures and their true impact on the business. I'll establish that environmental exaggeration on the part of activists and the media is routine, and that these exaggerations have real economic consequences. There are good reasons to resist the constant pressure from green lobby groups towards their ideal society. Business is not, generally, viewed as a constructive ally to the green believers. As business, however, we cannot just ignore the green fringe. Since they have captured at least some of the regulatory powers of government, there are compliance implications for companies. They have also captured broad mind-share among the general public, so branding and marketing has to be sensitive to the norms and beliefs of environmentalism. Even among employees, environmental beliefs, valid or otherwise, often dictate the attitude towards the organisation and the desirability of working there. For this reason, companies often feel backed into a corner, and are afraid of pushing back. But do these factors really force companies to accept greening costs that would, on their own merits, not be justified, or does it leave room for constructive skepticism and smart adaptation to make green initiatives pay?

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Ivo Vegter is an independent columnist. He started out as a technology journalist in 1993, and now writes columns, mainly for Daily Maverick, from the perspective of individual liberty and free markets. He is the author of Extreme Environment: How Environmental Exaggeration Harms Emerging Economies, nominated for the 2013 Alan Paton Non-Fiction Award. He was a 2011 Bastiat Prize finalist and was named one of South Africa’s Top 25 Media Game Changers for 2013.