The many roads to real sustainability

A number of factors are moving energy and climate change from the sidelines to center stage in the business world. Everyone remembers how Hurricane Katrina disrupted oil refining on the Gulf Coast, the California energy crisis, and the Northeast power outage. In response to natural disasters, geopolitical turmoil, changes in regulation, surging energy demand from emerging economies and changing...

01/15/2008


A number of factors are moving energy and climate change from the sidelines to center stage in the business world. Everyone remembers how Hurricane Katrina disrupted oil refining on the Gulf Coast, the California energy crisis, and the Northeast power outage. In response to natural disasters, geopolitical turmoil, changes in regulation, surging energy demand from emerging economies and changing consumer attitudes, business leaders are increasingly viewing energy management as a form of risk management.

Recently a group of senior corporate executives from a variety of manufacturing and commercial companies worked with Global Business Network and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR program to evaluate how the world energy scene might impact their businesses through 2020. The group identified a number of trends that could significantly change the U.S. energy environment over the next 20 years.

The two most uncertain and critical trends focused on future shifts in U.S. politics and regulation regarding carbon and changes in global economic patterns with respect to developing countries. In response to each of the four possible combinations of outcomes, the group framed plausible roads ahead, each posing a specific challenge to corporate leaders.