Joel Makower

Total Recall: Toyota and the Future of Green Marketing

What does Toyota's travails mean to green marketing?

That question seems ripe these days, as the leading Japanese auto maker gets a comeuppance for its allegedly serious safety defects — and the more than 8 million cars it has recalled worldwide as a result. Toyota, after all, had become a darling of the eco-minded, a case study in the green halo that can inure to old-line companies that bring environmental innovation to mainstream audiences. Toyota seemed to have done it the right way: with products that weren't just greener, but better — in this case, high-aesthetic, high-performance, affordable cars.

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The Green Business Decade in Review

Okay, I'll admit: The headline above is a bit of a come-on. I couldn't possibly do justice to the past 10 years' worth of green business activity — at least not in the following 1,500 or so words. But as we view the whatever-it's-called decade in the rearview mirror, it's tempting to assess what's transpired since the good old days of Y2K to see how far we've come — and how far we haven't. So, let's do that.

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Is There Hope for Business after Copenhagen?

I've been trying over the past few days to find some Hopenhagen in Copenhagen — that is, to see some positive outcome to the COP15 climate summit just concluded. The two-week event ended with a whimper, not a bang, a not-altogether-surprising conclusion to an overhyped event in which all parties had anticipating the entire world coming together to solve a single, critical issue affecting — well, the entire world.

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A Night at Hamlet's Castle: Much Ado about . . . What?

Saturday night brought one of the plum events of Copenhagen, at least for the business crowd assembled in this city: a conference held at Kronborg, also known as Hamlet's Castle, in Elsinore, about 50 kilometers from Copenhagen's city centre. The 250 or so well-coiffed business executives who made the trek here did so in large part by the efforts of Danish media magnate Erik Rasmussen, a Michael Bloomberg sort whose business publication, Monday Morning, is the hub of a influential think tank that has placed Rasmussen at the center of the Danish business world.

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Cap and Trade: An Unserious Policy Framework for Humanity’s Most Serious Challenge – Part 1

In a few days in Copenhagen, world leaders will debate and, we hope, agree upon aggressive targets for humanity’s greatest challenge to date: to avert devastating man-made climate change by transforming our economies’ use of energy and of land while maintaining and improving social welfare for the world’s peoples. We have in the past 250 years proceeded on a course of development which has used fossil energy to replace human and animal muscle power with mechanical energy. 

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Copenhagen's Business (As Usual) Day

Friday was dubbed "Business Day" here in Copenhagen — a chance for the corporate community to come together to discuss their considerable role in addressing climate change.

Significantly, business has been all but shut out of the discussions taking place a few kilometers away at the Bella Center, the site of the official UN COP15 negotiations. There, governments from around the world are talking about a slew of critical issues surrounding the commitments the everyone hopes will emerge a week from today from the global community on climate mitigation and adaptation.

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Copenhagen Gets Down to Business

To start with the basics: I don't expect this week's United Nations Climate Change Summit, a.k.a. COP15, to produce much from the perspective of global political change. I'm guessing, cynically perhaps, that the two-week event will yield more posturing and pageantry than productive policies.

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Four Studies That Ponder the Road from Here

Our world these days seems to be a succession of forks in the road, points at which decisions need to be made about which pathway we collectively must take. In nearly every case, there's an unsustainable "business as usual" scenario (often shortened, unappealingly, to BAU) along with one or more alternatives.

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Searching for Greenwash at Greenbuild

I'll admit to entering the halls of Greenbuild — the mammoth green building conference and expo, held last week in Phoenix — with a cynical theory: Greenbuild would be filled with greenwash. I assumed that with nearly 1,100 exhibitors, up 25% from the previous year amid a horrid economy, the U.S. Green Building Council, the event's organizers, had lowered its standards, accepting anyone that had a green story to tell.

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Green Consumers and the Recession: Is It Really Different This Time?

How have consumers' green shopping habits changed during these tough economic times? There are at least a couple schools of thought: one, that green consumerism has gotten steamrolled by the recession, viewed as a luxury no longer affordable; the other, that green shopping has endured as consumers go back to basics, rethinking the need to consume, redefining what it means to be fulfilled, and becoming less wasteful and more conscious of the impact of their purchases.

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