Convention dictates that the first posting of any new blog begins by observing that the last thing the world needs is yet another blog - before explaining why this one is the exception to the rule.
So in the interests of convention, let us explain why IT Week's Green Business News (or from here on in GBN) represents a valuable addition to the burgeoning blogosphere.
It can't have escaped your notice that environmental sustainability has emerged as the defining business concern of the past year. It is hard to pinpoint exactly when green issues hit the corporate mainstream, but whether it was Sky going carbon neutral, Tesco pledging to spend £100m on renewable energy technologies, Virgin committing $3bn to tackling climate change, or David Cameron getting on his bike that marked the tipping point, it is clear that environmental concerns are now a board level issue.
What is encouraging about this trend is that it is being driven more by pull than push. In other words, those firms that are adopting environmentally friendly business models are doing so not because they are being forced to by legislators or by a vocal minority of angry customers, but because it makes business sense. Today, green investments can help firms lower costs, tap new markets, reach out to new customers, improve staff morale, and head off encroaching red tape.
However, as more and more firms appoint corporate social responsibility officers and environmental managers, and launch green business initiatives, it is clear that practical support for these schemes remains thin on the ground.
Transforming a business into a lean, green operation without jeopardising corporate stability and damaging short to medium term profitability will prove perhaps the most challenging, and important, transformation project many organisations will ever undertake. And yet, practical advice and guidance on the steps companies can take, the pitfalls they are likely to encounter, the legislation they have to adhere to, the style of leadership they need to adopt, and the techniques they can use to maximise the business benefits is almost non-existent.
The mainstream media have spectacularly failed to fill this void. In fact the collective response to the shift towards green business models - and to the threat posed by climate change - will almost certainly be remembered as one of the most bizarre and irresponsible episodes in the UK media's bizarre and irresponsible history.
A collective psychosis has descended on many of Fleet Street's finest resulting in sensationalist, apocalyptic reporting - a recent study from the Institute for Public Policy Research think-tank dubbed it "climate porn". This Private Frazer mentality ("we're all doomed") creates what the report referred to as a "council of despair" and fuels the impression that environmental problems are too big for any individual person or company to make a difference.
Meanwhile, those firms that do try to shake off this environmental ennui and actually take steps to limit their pollution find themselves being scolded like a perpetually naughty child - praised for doing the right thing as, in the same breath, they are condemned for not doing more.
Tesco walked straight into this trap earlier this year when it promised to spend £100m on renewable energy sources, such as solar panels and wind turbines on its stores. An admirable move, you'd have thought, but praise was in short supply with Friends of the Earth and other lobby groups branding the move a "green wash" and insisting Tesco should instead focus on limiting the impact of its supply chains.
There must have been some execs at Tesco's HQ wondering why they bothered.
Of course, improvements do need to be made to reduce the pollution caused by supermarket's supply chains - and Tesco and others are making some progress in this area - but is failing to adequately recognise the green investments that are being made really the best way to encourage further changes.
It is this defeatist and anti-corporate attitude that GBN will tackle. The aim is simple: to provide the new generation of environmentally-conscious executives with the news, views and analysis that will help them turn their businesses into greener operations - and make or save money in the process.
In so doing we will look at how and why firms are - or in some cases aren't - going green and share the best practices, products and services that work along with the green business models that are best left on the drawing board.
That does not mean acting as a corporate cheerleader, unquestionably praising any company that takes the smallest step towards environmentally sustainable business models. Nor as a beardy Luddite, insisting green priorities must always ride roughshod over financial targets and fiduciary duty.
But it does mean taking a microscope to this most important of business trends and offering the kind of practical support that may make the complex transition towards green business models as smooth as possible.
James Murray, Management Editor, IT Week
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