2010 will be an important – but bad – year for green business

Cop15, the global conference in Copenhagen last year, produced about as much as anyone could have expected (a lot less than was hoped) – a fudged solution that requires much further discussion and negotiation. And in the UK, the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme (the renamed Carbon Reduction Commitment) initial deadline for creating baselines was pushed out a year to April 2011. It’s unlikely the USA will be able to get to a final cap and trade agreement into legislation during 2010 (the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 must still pass through the Senate). While China made positive noises before Cop15, it seems that they were really sticky in Copenhagen and were a big reason that the final agreement did not include any operational terms.

With all of these issues in mind, it seems clear that 2010 is likely to be a year of talks and discussions, but very little action. For companies involved in green industries this will be frustrating. Many of these companies are startups, gearing up for the expected demand in sustainability issues (technology, consulting, business processes, engineering, energy, and much more). But many of them won’t survive another year of waiting and delays in implementation and client demand. It seems likely they will have to.

Companies that are keen on implementing green strategies (for whatever reason) have probably started to do this already. Companies looking for an excuse to delay implementation, however, will have plenty of excuses in 2010. They’re likely to keep delaying. They’ll do so until they’re forced to change (and that’s the main reason I support emissions trading legislation!).

So, 2010 will not be a good year for those involved in the sustainability industry. But it is an important year nevertheless. It’s important to continue lobbying. It’s important to continue to search for the best solutions and the best processes that will not only produce the best outcomes, but will also be compelling for those who are not yet convinced that anything needs to be done. It’s an important year for science – more must be done to show the scientific evidence of climate change and the need for changes in our lifestyles. And it’s an important year for venture capitalists, who must try to separate out those startups that truly have something to offer from those that are just taking a chance on the bandwagon (remember the shakeup in the online IT industry just 10 years ago?).

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