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Business - Environmental Sustainability.docx

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Western University
Philosophy 2074F/G
Michael Herbert

ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY  According to the World Bank 2.4 billion people live on less than 2 dollars a day  The Brundtland Report as it has come to be known, defined sustainable development as that which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs, emphasizing that development must take into consideration the limits of environmental resources  Sustainability is used as shorthand for environmental sustainability and it is that topic that is the concern of this chapter  Overdevelopment in the US Southwest and in Southern California has severely taxed the available water supply  In Europe, dealing with the environmental crisis is addressed at the highest levels of the Eu. The EU has decreed that capitalism and hence business practices within capitalism, should be environmentally sustainable  The view that business has an obligation to respond to environmental crises is becoming increasingly accepted  Even now there are many areas in which business could change its practices and be more profitable as a result. For instance, many escalators run day and night, yet there is technology that would have them on standby until an electronic eye sensed someone approaching  Recently there has been a revolution in builing design. With long-lasting and low power consuming LED bulbs saves energy. Many new buildings are also being designed with skylights to supplant or reduce the need for daytime lights  Business has a moral as well as a legal obligation to obey all environmental laws  One of the problems facing business – especially in the US is that consumers traditionally have not been willing to pay the extra costs for environmentally friendly products, and thus there has been insufficient demand  Business should not lobby against proposed environmental legislation – environmental problems are nearly always public goods problems, and thus the political process is the appropriate place for consumers to express their preferences for a clean environment. Have an obligation to utilize their considerable expertise regarding the causes of environmental harm to educate consumers about best practices regarding environmental protection  Business ought to be held historically accountable for their greenhouse gas emissions from the point in recent history when anthropogenic climate change was discovered  Whereas a strong account of sustainability maintains that naturally occurring capital should not be regarded as substitutable and should therefore be preserved in the interest of future generations  Western style consumption must be reduced and that corporations targeting the BOP should take a green leap by deploying green technology in BOP markets  Liability depends on the level of active participation and control by the corporation, especially where wrongful purposes are involved (most notably, fraud)  The court maintained that in most cases involving congressional legislation, the costs of implementation may not be taken into account MORALITY, MONEY, MOTOR CARS – BOWIE  Environmentalists frequently argue that business has special obligations to protect the environment  Business doesn’t have an obligation to protect the environment over and above what is required by law  Businesses have an obligation to obey the law – environmental laws and all others  Environmentalists do not need a special obligation to the environment to protect the environment against illegal business activity; they need only insist that businesses obey the laws  Environmentalists, expect that business firms and officials have moral obligations to obey the law, avoid negligent behavior and tell the truth  If business does have a special obligation to help solve the environmental crisis, that obligation results from the special knowledge that business firms have  The most stringent requirement to avoid harm insists that no one has a right to render harm on another unless there is a compelling overriding moral reason to do so  Preventing harm is a less stringent obligation, but sometimes the obligation to prevent harm
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