As Friday, the day of reckoning at Copenhagen, approaches—China and the United States are locked in a staring contest: China promises to reduce greenhouse gases but refuses binding commitments. Without binding commitments, the U.S. won’t accept any climate change deal.
Who will blink first?
Meanwhile, let’s step back to the prince and the guru and their perspectives on all of this. The prince is the one we know well: the Prince of Wales, writing in Newsweek: “… it seems to me that we need to adopt a new approach. Surely the starting point must be to see the world as it really is, and perhaps to accept that the economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of Nature and not the other way around. Nature is, after all, the capital that underpins capitalism.”
Now the guru: C. K. Prahalad. He is a colleague at the Ross School of Business and is widely recognized as the top management consultant on the planet. In his own way, agrees with the prince.
“Sustainability is the mother lode of innovations that yield both bottomline and topline returns,” he writes in the Harvard Business Review. There is no alternative to sustainable development, he says. In a recent interview in India (his native land and one of the world’s top emitters of greenhouse gases), he said:
“I am just recognizing the inevitable. If you look at the water shortage, high commodity prices and certainly global warming, then the need for sustainable development is obvious. So, my starting point is, don’t deny the obvious, get on with it and innovate.”
He likens sustainability to the quality movement decades ago. Then, everyone thought that higher quality came at a price—quality costs money. Quality, it turned out, is free—and even reduces costs. The same will be true for sustainability, says Prahalad.
The prince and the guru—strange bedfellows in a world with a rapidly changing environment.
Do you agree with their arguments?
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