‘Sustainable’ companies

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Image source: http://global100.org/

The list of the 2006 Top 100 Most Sustainable Companies was released at the World Economic Forum last Friday, and I must confess to being a little surprised at some of the inclusions. Take British Airways, for instance, how on earth can an airline be identified as being sustainable when it is one of the biggest players in an industry that contributes on such a massive scale to global warming? For example, according to a report in The Observer yesterday: ‘The arguments against flying are compelling. One return flight to Florida produces the equivalent carbon dioxide to a year’s motoring. A return flight to Australia equals the emissions of three average cars for a year. Fly from London to Edinburgh for the weekend and you produce 193kg of CO2, eight times the 23.8kg you produce by taking the train. Moreover, the pollution is released at an altitude where its effect on climate change is more than double that on the ground.’

It would appear as though the methodology employed by Corporate Knights Inc. is a bit suspect. In response to one of the questions in the Global 100 web site FAQ: ‘How can a soft drink company and a weapons company make the Global 100?’, they state: ‘The Global 100 does not discriminate on the basis of how companies earn their revenues. Despite the fact that certain industries face greater social and environmental challenges than do others, some companies within those higher-impact industries may still be strong social and/or environmental performers. We believe that the blanket exclusion of companies based solely on which sector they belong to is a short-sighted approach, as there are no two companies exactly alike.’

Interesting argument me thinks … rather like saying it’s okay to murder so long as you don’t rape and pillage.