When we need constancy on Climate Change, we get inconsistency
- President Obama launching tough carbon reduction regulations for power stations, then approving oil drilling in the Arctic;
- Shell’s signing up to a climate change resolution to report on how its activities will contribute to reducing temperature rises to 2°C, then starting oil exploration in the Arctic;
- UK, Energy & Climate Change Secretary Amber Rudd making a fine speech on the economic impact of climate change (gist: the right should be as worried as the left), while dismantling many renewable energy/energy efficiency incentives in favour of shale gas.
I have long argued that leadership is key to sustainability. If our leaders aren’t acting, then a majority of us won’t act. According to academic leadership guru Warren Bennis, one of the key elements in whether we trust our leaders is constancy – “the quality of being faithful and dependable” (see my book The Green Executive for more). Contradictory actions lead to cognitive dissonance which in turn leads to confusion and dismay.
Whether we are leading the free world, a mega-corporation, a start-up or a community group, people expect constancy from us. And, crucially, they will judge it by gut instinct, not by an intellectual argument. Constancy isn’t easy, and you’ll never manage it 100% of the time, but you need to get the big calls right.