Why would we rely on companies’ goodwill and marketing desires to drive environmental, social and governance goals? Why don’t we as a society go out the push these agenda upon them? After all, we did the same with labour laws, we also regulate the release of harmful substance into the air or water bodies. There are more draconian and extensive rules around. The financial markets might look like they will survive climate change. But not human lives. Especially not the ones whose livelihood and critical infrastructure depends on stable environment.
There is a huge crack in the system and it is going to cause a great deal of pain if we try to fix it. This pain is in terms of profits; but we know it is also going to cause a greater deal of pain, agony and anguish to many lives, and a future that is ahead of us. Yet for some reason, we are willing to safeguard profits at the expense of a future. We think the profit can buy us safeguards – what form, I’m not exactly sure about.
A green economy requires external intervention and it is not going to come about naturally. Sure, it will be quite difficult to gain societal consensus around these issues and things. Most of the population may not be well-aware of the issues at hand enough to actually support some of these reforms or policy changes. Others whose profits and livelihood are impacted may question the wisdom of these. Public education and creating awareness is just as important – we’ve done that with hand-washing and encouraging public hygiene, we have moved people from kampongs (villages) into high-rise public housing in a single generation, and we have turned Singapore from Third World to First in just about 25-30 years.
We can make this transition to a green economy.