Sunday, November 22, 2009

He who pays the piper calls the tune

The Business Council for Sustainable Development is a business group with the mission of "provid[ing] business leadership as a catalyst for change toward sustainable development, and to promote eco-efficiency, innovation and responsible entrepreneurship". Despite the natural suspicion that they were just a greenwash lobby, designed to lend a green tinge to their members, they have generally played it straight, promoting that goal (though with a promo-market slant). They have been particularly effective in the debate over climate change, pushing for tough policy and highlighting the fact that the public - including businesses and National Party supporters - wants real action and an ETS that makes polluters pay. [DOC] Too effective, in the eyes of some of their members:

on November 5 Barry Harris, Fonterra's head of milk supply and sustainability, delivered a withering speech to the council's meeting. There were 31 other representatives of corporate members in attendance.

Harris sharply criticised the council for what he considered its failure to represent the interests of members like Fonterra that "had a lot of skin in the game".

The council's insight into how opposed much of the public and some of business is to the ETS changes has clearly rattled some of its less sustainable members.

According to some attendees, council chairman Bob Field, chairman of Toyota New Zealand, ordered council staff to stop making public statements on the ETS.

And they've been silent ever since. The people who pay the piper have called the tune, and that tune is to STFU and support the government's morally, environmentally and financially unsustainable subsidies. Which may suit their short-term (and shortsighted) economic interests - but at the cost of utterly burning the BCSD and reducing it to a transparent greenwash lobby.