While Capital Hill is making little progress on the energy policy front, the private sector is moving forward.
McGraw Hill and NJR Clean Energy ventures, a subsidiary of New Jersey Resources (NJR), a natural gas distributor for residential and commercial customers, recently announced plans to build the largest privately owned solar project in the Western Hemisphere. The $60 Million project built on 50 acres located 40 minutes from Manhattan will produce 18 Million KW annually and reduce carbon emissions. According to Rutgers University, it will also generate 294 jobs.
NJR recently issued the 2011 Corporate Sustainability Report. “The decisions we make today have the potential to change the world. That’s a tremendous responsibility, and one that we take seriously. At New Jersey Resources, we believe we all have a role to play in protecting our natural resources and enhancing our customers’ quality of life and the communities we serve, today and for generations to come. That is why we have made corporate responsibility a core component of our business strategy.”
In Europe, Energy & Environmental Magazine recently reported that “Almost 100 prestigious companies from Google to Coca-Cola, with a combined annual turnover of more than €1 trillion, have signed up to a declaration calling on the European Union to extend to 30% its planned emission cuts. Currently the target is 20% below 1990 levels by 2020, but the EU is debating whether or not to increase this to 30%. Britain’s energy secretary, Chris Huhne, has also called for an EU target of 30%.” Companies included Allianz, Capgemini, Coca Cola, Google, H&M, Johnson Controls, Sony, and Nestle. Absent from the list are heavy industrial energy users from the steel, cement, and the oil and gas industry.
PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) recently released its 14th Annual Global CEO Survey. http://www.pwc.com/ceosurvey
1,201 business leaders in 69 countries responded. The findings are enlightening.
Nearly half of the executives said “They would change their companies’ strategies within three years because they expect stakeholders to factor companies’ environmental and corporate responsibility practices. Companies are planning to adapt their offerings—or develop entirely new ones—to address society’s changing sentiments. They’re also planning to answer questions about their environmental and corporate responsibility practices.”
The report continues “More than two-thirds (64%) said environmentally friendly products and services are an important part of their innovation strategy.”
Stephen A. Roell, Chairman and CEO of Johnson Controls said “Most corporations want to do the right thing. They want to be responsive regarding energy use. The people we’re hiring expect us to be. They want to work for a company that has a value system built around sustainability. I don’t think you need government regulation to drive it.”
More and more companies are integrating the financial implications of energy, commodities, and natural resources, and certainly the most precious of all—-water—into the day to day analysis of the business model. More and more shareholders are voting their proxies for resolutions to become more proactively regarding the environment.
These are not tree hugger issues. These are business issues. These are issues of national security. These are issues of dealing with depleting (and ever so costly) natural resources in an environment where global populations are growing dramatically. And, quickly!
79% of the PWC respondents said that “Our innovations will lead to operational efficiencies that provide us with a competitive advantage.”
Sounds to me that corporate leaders are equating environmental stewardship with the 1960’s race to the moon. Yet Capitol Hill still does not seem to want to get into the race. Though most people are tiring quickly of the phrase “kicking the can,” Washington doesn’t seem to tire at all.
Maybe Capitol Hill should read the PWC survey.