Why Ecology and Economy Policies are Inseparable – Andrew Hutson
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Why Ecology and Economy Policies are Inseparable – Andrew Hutson

Erik: What are common misconceptions about
green initiatives and what are you doing to educate corporations about what it really
means to be green today? Andrew: The most common misconception is one
that’s been out there probably since the beginning and that there’s a trade off between
ecology and economy, when realistically you can’t separate the two. And you can’t
separate the two for a number of reasons. One is because… if you’re talking about
the bottom line, there’s always an efficiency argument to be made and that’s very, very
basic. So inputs cost money, waste costs money. If you can control pollution, or prevent pollution
before you have to control it that’s… instead of paying for treatment or paying
for someone to haul it away you just prevent form doing it in the first place, that kind
of comes from the Japanese Kaizen approach, anything that is muda or waste is bad. So
even if you take it to a very basic essence you’ve got that piece of it, which is there’s
no trade off there. And there’s been a lot of scholarship and a lot of consultants that
have thought about this a lot and tried to shatter this idea of there being a trade off.
But even more strategically, we’re rapidly approaching a world that… has very few tolerances
left that we can surpass. So you can look at preserving a forest as just something that
is purely for the ecology of a nation, but in essence it’s also the capitol stock of
a nation. There were some studies that went back to Indonesia in the nineties when they
just had outrageous growth and an economist went in and corrected for the amount that
they were cutting into their capitol stock and the growth rate went from seven to eight
percent to, like two percent. Because what they were doing was cutting into their principal
instead of living on the interest and we’ve done that at large for a very, very long time
and we’re quickly getting to the point where we can’t cut into the capitol much more
without it seriously impacting the way that we live. And so our economy is ultimately
predicated on a thriving ecology and without that companies will be spending a lot of money
trying to procure resources, communities will spend a lot of money in order to get things
like clean water and we already are, we already are. So those two things you have to necessarily
break that trade off. Its really strand because you still hear it and this is an old argument
from the 70s, that at the time it was a logical argument because if you looked at command
and control regulations that was the case, everything that the government did was going
to impose a cost. But companies now that are proactive and the way that regulations are
structured, that are market based, like the cap and trade SO2 program from the nineties
that ended up costing a tenth of the cost that was estimated and ended up providing
hundred of billions of dollars in benefits through improved health of citizens and through
infrastructure damage that wasn’t – infrastructure damage avoided. It was market friendly and
a lot of people made a lot of money trading permits and that’s sort of a precursor to
the carbon market now; a really smartly structured regulations that drive innovations instead
of imposing costs. And so I think fundamentally there is this myth that’s still out there,
so what we do is we go into companies and we attempt to spell that out. And its funny
because in the last couple of years that job has gotten a lot easier. That used to be the
pitch, we’d come in and say ‘Look there is no trade off’ and now we go in and we’re
meeting with very smart managers and executives that say ‘ Yeah we know, but tell us what
to do.’ And so we rapidly have to change our strategy from… trying to teach the lesson
that it’s not a trade off to, ‘well, now here’s how you execute on this strategy
effectively,’ and that’s proving both inspiring and challenging.

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