Eco-sustainability will matter more than ever in 2015; this is the year the US’s leading companies must prove they are finally addressing climate change through corporate sustainability, thanks to two presidents and the Pope.
Remember the green marketing wave of 2007? Al Gore’s movie An Inconvenient Truth won an Academy Award that year, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change made big news worldwide with evidence about the link between burning fossil fuels and global warming.
Consumers were researching brands’ environmental information like never before, leaving most companies scrambling to tell their environmental story.
Many brands went overboard, often making marketing claims that were little more than greenwashing. Companies colored their logos green and put polar bears in their advertising. These poor marketing decisions slowed when the 2008 recession cut corporate spending on sustainability, but climate change did not slow or stop. Extreme weather became a big problem for businesses, creating a multi-billion dollar impact annually.
Heading into 2015, we may finally reach the tipping point at which environmental sustainability gains a foothold in global society. Fortunately, there are signs of progress on that front.
Despite the eagerness of many in Congress to turn back environmental regulations, President Barack Obama recently brokered a climate change deal with Chinese President Xi Jinping. After 20 years of climate inaction, this deal could lead to a global agreement on reducing pollution among 195 member countries at this December’s United Nations climate change convention in Paris. The United States will put forth a more aggressive goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions: 26-28 percent by 2025.
Meanwhile, Pope Francis is also taking aggressive action on climate change. Francis’ two predecessors spoke out in favor of climate action. But the Vatican now plans to go further in 2015 by issuing an encyclical that urges all Catholics to take action on moral and scientific grounds. The document will be sent in March to the world’s 5,000 bishops and 400,000 priests, who will distribute it to parishioners. In September, Pope Francis will talk directly to the American people at a rare papal stadium mass in Philadelphia. On that same trip, he will probably speak before Congress and the United Nations as well. Though he’ll be addressing a variety of topics, this U.S. visit will undoubtedly increase public awareness about climate change.
So in the new year, more than ever before, customers will be expecting brands to take positive and legitimate actions to reduce their carbon footprint. Those that do so will be rewarded; those that do not will lose market share to “greener” competitors.