The April 9 Wall Street Journal Business & Environment section brought forth its usual set of good articles on how companies are navigating the environmental scene. The first article in this edition caught my eye. It was about Vaclav Smil of the University of Manitoba, and his assertion that there is no singular global energy solution, that “what we produce and use depends on where we are.” I couldn’t agree more. If I were to rename it, I might have called it “A Convenient Truth,” contrasting it against the more well known “An Inconvenient Truth” … the book by Al Gore about global warming.
What I take away from Smil’s article is that we cannot globally impose an environmental regulation or standard, as the solutions must be regional or local. That’s because economics matter to everyone, including environmentalists. This is why a national Renewable Portfolio Standard for power companies may never pass in the United States, but there will be regional renewable energy standards, and that makes sense. How we solve the energy and environmental requirements depends on where we live, and in other words, what we have to work with economically.
The overarching key, however, is that in whatever circumstance (or in this case, locale) a company finds itself, the environment must play a role in determining the products it manufactures, the energy it consumes, and the environmental regulations with which it must comply in doing so. Think globally, act locally. So, environmental action must be built into the genetics of a company.
In a most recent example, Rain CII plans to install new emission control systems at our facilities. We will be the first in our industry to so vigorously expand emission controls and, I might add, at no small expense. But here is the key… we can make it work economically. By adding emission controls, we can process a broader range of materials which means more economic materials for our industry. We made it convenient. Who would have thought? We did.
At Rain CII we’re proud for improving our plants’ environmental performance. We’re proud to make products that improve the environment. We’re proud to reduce our energy consumption. And finally, we’re proud to do all these things in an economically successful way. It’s our local solution to a global problem.