Andrew Winston on Live Earth

Andrew Winston, the co-author of Green to Gold (which I am currently reading); discusses the recent Live Earth Concert.

The pledges. Gore raised his right hand (I thought he might pledge to defend the constitution…) and asked everyone to join him in saying seven pledges (which, by the way, were not that easy to find online). Besides the ones that have obvious impact on specific industries (a moratorium on coal-fired power plants!), the last one was really interesting:

“I pledge to buy from businesses and support leaders who share my commitment to solving the climate crisis and building a sustainable, just, and prosperous world for the 21st century.”

This is asking consumers not only to understand whether the companies they buy from are green and ethical, but whether their lobbying efforts and political donations are supporting green-minded leaders. I have no idea how people are supposed to figure this stuff out on their own since the information on that is incredibly hard to put together. But the pledge itself is fascinating: it’s a newer, larger definition of what consumers as stakeholders can and should demand. Also, it may point to an opportunity for companies that have nothing to hide, can use transparency to their advantage, and can tell a well-founded story about their full environmental impacts and what they’re doing about them. What a great chance to build customer loyalty.

Language and imagery. One criticism: there was still a lot of “save the planet” talk. Sorry to be cynical, but the environmental movement has been using that language for decades and failed. We need to talk about saving ourselves, our economy, our way of life, etc. And they kept showing the curly-Q compact fluorescent bulbs. Those are still weird-looking to many people. Why not also show the frosted encased versions that look like a regular bulb. My point is that we’re still a bit behind on how we portray the shift (except for the clear preference for “climate crisis” over “global warming” and the constant messages about saving money). So companies that can pitch environmental solutions with a combination of words and imagery that make the change seem like a life improvement, not just a way to assuage guilt over killing the planet, will also thrive.


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