How to stop running if you hate it so much

Reverse of this real story in the WAPO. I mean, really.

When companies/governments go quiet about their so-called ESG efforts, whether it’s investing or actually taking steps to reduce their carbon print(s), to avoid criticism and backlash well, you know we are once again through the looking glass:

The phenomenon, known as green hushing, has become pervasive even as businesses set more ambitious internal targets, according to a survey by South Pole, a climate consultancy and carbon offsets developer.
South Pole surveyed 1,200 large companies from 12 different countries, all of which have set net-zero targets and more than two-thirds of which identify as “heavy emitters.” It found that although a majority of companies have set science-based targets to help them deliver on their commitments, 23% “don’t plan to publicize” them.
The findings suggest that the stigma of so-called greenwashing, where a company exaggerates its green credentials, is so feared that executives will do anything to avoid being accused of it. Being labeled a greenwasher brings with it reputational harm, financial damage and, increasingly, the scrutiny of regulators. And once tainted by such allegations, companies can struggle to resurrect their reputations.

But green hushing also comes at a cost, South Pole said.
“More than ever we need the companies making progress on sustainability to inspire their peers to make a start,” said Renat Heuberger, chief executive and co-founder of South Pole. “This is impossible if progress is happening in silence.”

So, it’s a preemptive PR move, if that makes you feel any better (Ed: it doesn’t). But it does remind us who/what companies serve first – their reputations. If everything is done for optics, what are we ultimately looking at? Much less seeing. We do well to keep this in mind across many contexts – which news stories, politicians, examples of corruption, coups d’etat get more play – all are choices. There’s nothing celestial about which news makes headlines. Someone decided.

It’s much the same with these companies who decide that ‘being quiet about it’ is just another tool in their climate tool box. People and planet need confirmation, verification, allies, and affirmation.

Apologies to Dylan Thomas but Do not go quiet into that good night,

Keep ’em Coming

In the same way that having Insurance company executives testify on camera before Congress about what their companies do is be the best way to guarantee passage of universal health coverage, Republican opposition to climate legislation written by the coal lobby will likely be its best friend, as well.

House Republicans are circulating a PowerPoint document that purports to show the regional breakdown of costs for energy consumers under the Waxman-Markey climate and energy bill (ACES). The header: “Most States Lose Under the Pending Climate Bill.”

The catch? It appears to have been authored by the coal giant Peabody Energy. [Note: It was actually authored by the National Mining Assocation; see updates below.]

The document was discussed on a conference call held by the “Rural America Solutions Group” within the GOP caucus on Thursday, hosted by group co-chairs Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), Sam Graves (R-Mo.), and Doc Hastings (R-Wash.). According to a press release, the call was meant to “highlight how the Democrats’ National Energy Tax will make it more expensive for rural Americans to fertilize the crops, put fuel in the tractor and food on the table.”

It isn’t that this is anything more than run-of-the-mill skulduggery, which it is, by and large. The interesting point about it is just how out-to-lunch this approach is to governing, in terms of using government to enact solutions to massive problems that require a centralized organization. Like a government. Industry shills and bought-and-paid for politicos are our connection to the Gilded Age proper. If you’re a romantic and wonder what it was like, this is what is was like.

Its excesses and corruption were its undoing and eventually led to reforms. Our excesses being a little more poisonous in terms of waste and emissions, and our corruptions enlarged to include the intellectual, our undoing is likely to be far more jarring than a matter of a few reforms.

So it is enlightening, in its way, to have chief polluters and fiscal looters advocate and agitate for the policies that have enshrined their advantageous positions. They’re as likely as any of us to be perfectly frank about their successes and points of view. Not always truthful, but you’d be amazed.

These strategies keep our refusals to change right in front of us, which is where they need to be. The longer we/they keep people right out in front spouting nonsense about the how costs of staying healthy or using less energy are too great to bear, the more effective measures to protect health and save energy can be.