In a dramatic shift the fastest growing environmental issue in 2018 is sustainable business practices.
At a time when many issues are politically charged, including environmental matters, a major shift in public opinion is happening. There are dramatic changes ongoing as a consequence of the last Presidential election that will result in less and different federal government regulation and enforcement of environmental matters (i.e., rolling back environmental regulation was a popular campaign message with the majority that voted for the current President).
Against that backdrop of less environmental regulation, a well respected national poll earlier this year that found more than half of Americans believe that climate change will not affect them. “It’s just one of thousands of other issues that are out there” was the widely reported public perception.
A Democratic campaign shop that advises candidates across America tells candidates in 2018, this is not a year to lead with environmental issues, “the environment is not on the top 10 list of issues” that will drive a voter.
Policy making public officials at EPA are talking about drinking water quality as a trending issue, but the topic has not yet caught on.
And certainly green building has stalled. Not only does green building not have the cachet of being “the cool kid on the block” that it did a decade ago, it is much more than that and the numbers of new U.S. projects registered with third party rating systems is all but moribund.
What are fast growing and emergent are sustainable business practices.
Barron’s earlier this month published an article about environmental, social and governance issues, “The New Allure of Sustainable Investing.” A former Department of Justice deputy told a state bar group this month, “voluntary business sustainability is ‘the’ fastest growing area of environmental law and maybe among all law practice areas.” A political pollster, that works regularly with Republican candidates, just weeks ago distributed a blog post, “Sustainability Isn’t Red or Blue it is the Way to Women Voters.”
There is a definite gender difference and woman are much more interested in sustainability than men. An in house newsletter at a major mutual fund articulated, “ECS as a top entrée to woman customers across all other demographics.” Such is dramatic when women control more than 50% of the nation’s wealth.
Millennials are actually interested in sustainability at higher numbers than woman. A recent market study reported 84% of millennials want to engage with businesses that are sustainable. Needless to say that percentage is huge.
Anecdotally, this law firm receives more inquiries from prospective clients about sustainability today than ever before. Today, environmental, social and governance is the fastest growing area of our business (.. and that work, law and non-law, is much more than only SEC climate change disclosures). We don’t disclose clients, but in recent months we have added to our sustainability practice, including clients that range from a large agricultural business to a retailer and an apparel firm to another law firm as well as cannabis industry members and a pharmaceutical company.
This is not a micro trend, but rather should be viewed in a macro context. With younger people driving the bus, sustainability is an opportunity for corporate American and small business alike that they had best get on board with now, .. or risk missing the bus entirely.
If you are regular reader of this blog you will notice there will be a hiatus in postings. By the time you read this I will be in Pakistan trekking and mountaineering on Broad Peak and K2. Postings will resume in August.