The CSR Newsletters are a freely-available resource generated as a dynamic complement to the textbook, Strategic Corporate Social Responsibility: Sustainable Value Creation.

To sign-up to receive the CSR Newsletters regularly during the fall and spring academic semesters, e-mail author David Chandler at

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Strategic CSR - Longevity

This is the last CSR Newsletter of the Fall semester.
Have a great holiday break and I will see you in the New Year!
The article in the url below presents a new take on longevity:
"There are Methuselahs among us. These aged wonders of the natural world do not stalk the earth but glide through Arctic waters. Scientists surveying Greenland sharks, previously thought to live up to 200 years, found that they have far longer lifespans. One specimen was calculated, give or take a century, to be nearly 400 years old, born more than a century before the US was founded."
It is believed that studying animals such as the Greenland shark can have implications for human lifespans:
"Anti-ageing enthusiasts insist that life is merely the absence of the processes that lead to death, and that human lifespan could be extended dramatically. Their philosophy is to treat ageing as a disease: treat the disease and life need not end."
Research in this area has already generated remarkable progress and altered our perceptions of the limits of human existence:
"After all, life expectancy has been rising for decades as we conquer the challenges – malnutrition, disease, war, mishap – that hasten our passing. Three centuries ago, a person would be hard pushed to reach 40; some scientists think those born today stand a fighting chance of reaching 150."
My reaction is to wonder what implications this has for the debate around climate change. Clearly, we do not have 150 years before we need to get serious about sustainability, but a growing awareness that we can live longer might influence the debate. At the moment, I am integrating concepts of time/history/the past into my research. One takeaway is the notion that human perceptions of time are defined largely by our own mortality. In other words, we think 80 years is a long period of time purely because that is our expected lifespan. In terms of the planet (about 4.5 billion years old), simple life forms (about 3.5 billion years), pre-human existence (about 6 million years), and modern humans (about 200,000 years), however, 80 years is barely a rounding error. But, 80 years is meaningful to us because we are sufficiently self-absorbed to think that we matter. In reality, of course, we do not matter much and life will continue perfectly well without us (as long as we can avoid destroying the planet). With that goal in mind, I wonder if the prospect of our children and grandchildren living much longer lives will affect their perspective on how long is a long time.
See you in the New Year.
Instructor Teaching and Student Study Site:
Strategic CSR Simulation:
The library of CSR Newsletters are archived at:
Centuries-old sharks hold the secret to a longer life
By Anjana Ahuja
August 15, 2016
Financial Times
Late Edition – Final

Monday, December 5, 2016

Strategic CSR - HFCs

The article in the url below reveals a recent "sequel" meeting to the COP 21 accord signed in Paris last December:
"When negotiators from nearly 200 countries gathered outside Paris in December for the United Nations summit meeting on climate change, they reached the first agreement to take action on curbing their planet-warming pollution. This weekend in Vienna, with far less attention, negotiators from those same countries neared a deal that many environmentalists have called the most significant action this year to reduce global warming."
What is interesting about the Vienna meeting is not that it is happening (there are many loopholes and weaknesses in the COP 21 that need to be addressed if the agreement is to result in meaningful change), but that it was being done almost secretly. The effect of reduced media coverage (and, as a result, reduced pressure) is what might turn out to make a more effective agreement:
"While the Paris agreement aims to reduce the use of coal and oil, which produce the carbon dioxide emissions that are the chief cause of global warming, negotiators in Vienna pushed ahead on a deal to ban the use of hydrofluorocarbons, chemicals used in air-conditioners and refrigerators. Although they contribute only a small percentage of the world's greenhouse gases, these chemicals, known as HFCs, can trap heat in the atmosphere at levels a thousand times higher than carbon dioxide can, according to published scientific studies. Negotiations to ban HFCs have dragged on for seven years. But the draft language emerging from the Vienna talks could lead to a final deal ready to be signed during an October conference in Kigali, Rwanda."
As such, the Vienna meeting is not designed to amend the COP 21 agreement, but would be an amendment to the Montreal Protocol of 1989 that dealt specifically with gasses (CFCs, in particular) that cause the ozone hole in the Earth's atmosphere. As with many governmental interventions, the Montreal Protocol had a particularly damaging unintended consequence:
"In response, chemical companies developed HFCs, which do not harm the ozone. But the substitute had the wholly unexpected side effect of increasing heat trapped in the atmosphere, which worsened climate change."
The value of amending an existing protocol is that the amendment is immediately binding on all signatory countries:
"An amendment to the Montreal Protocol would have the force of law in almost every country, which could give it more potency than the Paris Agreement, a legal hybrid that lacks the binding force of a treaty. While some portions of the Paris Agreement are legally binding, the specific actions taken by countries to reduce their emissions are voluntary. And there are already questions about whether some countries will follow through on their Paris pledges."
This is particularly encouraging since the COP 21 agreement already looks endangered:
"In Brazil, the impeachment proceedings against President Dilma Rousseff have thrown the fate of her Paris promise into question. Rodrigo Duterte, the new president of the Philippines, said this month that he would not honor the Paris agreement. And in the United States, Donald J. Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, has vowed to 'cancel' the Paris accord."
For additional details of the agreement reached at the Vienna meeting, see:
Take care
Instructor Teaching and Student Study Site:
Strategic CSR Simulation:
The library of CSR Newsletters are archived at:
A Sequel to the Paris Climate Accord Takes Shape in Vienna
By Coral Davenport
July 23, 2016
The New York Times

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Strategic CSR - Canada

The article in the url below reveals a dramatic shift in government policy towards climate change that is happening just north of the border (for those of you living in the U.S.):
"By 2030, Canada intends to see its greenhouse gas emissions fall 30% from the 2005 levels of 749 megatonnes. To get there, the country expects its businesses to play an important role in a new plan that will include a program to make companies pay for their carbon emissions. Under the new government, led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Canada expects to unveil a carbon pricing program as early as this fall. 'We're going to make sure there is a strong price on carbon right across the country,' Trudeau said during a TV interview [over the summer]."
The government subsequently launched a carbon pricing plan this past October (for details, see here), an approach that stands in stark contrast to the previous government of Stephen Harper, under which Canada announced it would be unable to meet its commitments signed under the Kyoto Protocol of 1992 (which committed the country to only a 6% reduction of greenhouse gasses by 2012 compared to 1990 levels). But, this low starting point just indicates how far Canada has to go to catch-up. Even the 30% reduction commitment by 2030 is considered by the international community to be weak, given that it "falls far below those set by the European Union and the US":
"Around 40 countries and more than 20 cities, states and regions are putting in place or already have a price on carbon, which translates to 12% of global emissions and an annual value of $50bn, according to the World Bank. The European Union runs the world's largest cap-and-trade program, launched in 2005, which involves 31 countries and covers 45% of its greenhouse gas emissions. The US Congress attempted to create a carbon pricing program after Barack Obama became president but failed to gain enough support."
The article suggests one reason for the lack of more substantive progress – business resistance, which is expected to be strong. As such, the government's commitment in practice has yet to be fully tested:
"Carbon pricing can be an effective weapon against global warming. But it's also a concept that historically has drawn a lukewarm reception from businesses, which tend to fight its financial impact on them."
In other words, while the initiative is hopeful, the details of implementation are yet to be worked out. Perhaps more importantly, early signs are mixed. For example, a quote toward the end of the article sums the general attitude most societies have taken on this issue, to date:
"Carbon prices vary considerably around the world, from less than $1 per tonne of emissions in countries such as Mexico to $130 per tonne in Sweden, with 85% of countries pricing carbon at below $10. [Mark Thurber of Stanford] believes Canada will set the price at around $15 per tonne. 'It's been pretty well established that that's a level that drives some abatement activities but the economic impact is fairly minor,' he said. 'It's big enough to be meaningful but it's not going to cripple them in the slightest.'"
But isn't the whole point to do something meaningful? If the goal is always to ensure "the economic impact is fairly minor," nothing will ever change. I may have missed something, but I thought the whole point is to punish behavior that is damaging to the collective, while at the same time rewarding behavior (e.g., investment in alternative energies) that promotes a healthy and strong society.
Take care
Instructor Teaching and Student Study Site:
Strategic CSR Simulation:
The library of CSR Newsletters are archived at:

Dear corporate Canada: It's time to pay for your part in climate change
By Alison Moodie
July 28, 2016
The Guardian