Interview with Sydney
A campaign to reduce Ozone depleting substances is in effect a critique of a capitalist order. How do you manage to convince big corporates to reduce profits?
I do not think that Global Environmental Agreements inhibit or stall the developmental process. Further more, they certainly are not the critique of the ‘capitalist order’. What they do is to set up the global agenda for the sustainable development.
There are always the alternative paths for the development. The world community , for the benefit of our future generation need to make informed choice for the sustainable development so that our natural resources like Ozone Layer is not put in danger. Contrary to popular belief, the sustainable processes have environmental, economic and social advantages. The Protocol like that of Montreal is stark proof of such advantageous alternative paths.
In the beginning, when the Protocol was in its formative stage, it was hard to convince the governments and industries on the phase out of ODS. Before the Protocol, industry predicted massive job losses and down trend in sales and profits. In USA alone, US$ 28 billion of annual business and US$ 128 billion of investment in equipment related to CFCs was considered to be at risk in mid-‘80s. However, as the leadership among the governments in setting up the ozone friendly policies emerged and as the stewardship among the industries in searching for the ozone friendly technologies began, others followed. Their actions themselves became convincing arguments for the others. None of the annual reports of any corporations have ever reported the loss of employment, sales and profits any time over last 15 years due to phase out of ozone depleting substances. In fact, there have been massive gains due to collateral benefits derived from the ozone depleting substances phase out.
My programme had to do the hard facilitation, advice and guidance in the beginning and then transfer the experiences of the successes to the developing countries to ensure that convincing takes place globally.
Just prior to the signature of the Montreal Protocol, no replacement was considered possible for majority of application for CFCs. Today, the production and consumption of ODS in developed countries is near complete except for two chemicals i.e. Methyl Bromide and HCFCs.
Industries have tremendous potential to innovate, and power of technological changes is far more than one could estimate. For the actions under the Climate Change this is even more true. The so-called ‘capitalist order’ has far more to gain by taking action to save energy and adopting the renewable. It is win-win strategy. Coming from the private sector myself, I am convinced that industries have amazing potential to innovate and put in practice a technology to solve the problem, even if such problems are created by the industries themselves in the first place.