chapter  6
23 Pages

Business politics and the environment

Private business is one of the most important forces shaping the interactions between humans and the environment. This is not to say that private business is the sole force damaging the environment. Nor is it to assert that state-owned business has a more benign impact on the environment. Events in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe should be sufficient to undermine such an interpretation (Carter and Turnock 1993). Nonetheless, private firms going about their normal business, unrestrained by too much government regulation, have delivered very significant amounts of environmental damage. Business has also been willing to invest considerable time and energy in resisting environmental regulations in order to protect its ability to continue doing whatever it wants without interference. As such, its political actions in defence of its ability to harm the environment need to be considered. But not all firms are indifferent to environmental damage. Parts of the business sector have worked tirelessly to develop and sell technologies that counter the environmentally harmful effects of industrial practices. (Companies developing pollution-control devices fall into this category.) Some firms choose to work with technologies that are inherently less harmful. Some have redesigned their production processes to reduce the adverse consequences. Others have ‘gone green’ in the marketing of their products. These variations in responses from businesses require some explanation.