Carbon Neutrality to Carbon Advantage

Dave Douglas in a Op-Ed in Business Week writes about the carbon or sustainability opportunities available for companies. Dave is the vice-president for Eco Responsibility at Sun Microsystems and like other Sun executives he writes a blog which makes for good reading.

Dave writes about the growing interest in Carbon Neutrality, which is impossible in actual reduction of carbon to zero. What we can do is increase efficiency and buy green energy and offset the rest.

Dave writes that working only for carbon neutrality is a missed opportunity.

It’s good for companies to invest in others’ good deeds, but right now it’s absolutely critical that companies invest in creating more sustainable versions of themselves. More than ever, we need the innovation that comes from competition and open markets. We need companies that view climate change not as a threat but as an opportunity—and are pursuing it with the enthusiasm that big opportunities engender. We need companies to go beyond carbon neutrality to something I call “carbon advantage.”

You can create a carbon advantage for your company in two ways: First, you can use efficiency and resource reduction to provide a fundamental cost advantage in your operations and products. Second, you can use innovation in green products and services to offer customers a competitive advantage, thus differentiating your offerings.

This has been my learning and the theme of my writing for some time now. I believe that there is a great top-line opportunity in this area rather than just risk reduction, cost savings or bottom line increases only. This is where sustainability and carbon become a business strategy.

Incidentally, it seems that Business Week’s subtitle on carbon offsets missed the point and Dave clarified his position again on this weblog. Business Week seems to have changed the sub title now. It just shows the exact point that Dave was trying to make – to move away from just Carbon neutrality and concentrate on carbon opportunities.


2 thoughts on “Carbon Neutrality to Carbon Advantage

  1. carbon neutrality is a goal, but appears to be impossible without carbon sequestration combined with carbon expulsion from the earth’s atmosphere. i submitted an idea to the “virgin earth challenge” that could possibly achieve this goal, and thereby let our current economy recover, by removing the restrictions on carbon output. All the while it would give us more time to come up with a plan for other means of achieving carbon zero. I sincerely hope that this plan will be seriously reviewed by the judges of the Virgin Earth Challenge and action taken to implement. I have seen several good ideas submitted for carbon sequestration, but none to date regarding carbon expulsion. My plan and sequestration must work as a combination.

  2. Pingback: Sustainability as a Business Strategy « World is Green

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