Too much of one voice, though, can get a little drab, so I'm handing over to an "expert" - temporarily.
George Monbiot, a far more qualified ranter than I, has recently published a piece on the greening of Tesco and Walmart that is really worth reading.
Monbiot argues that while mega-corporations may spout enviro-speak (i.e. talk the talk) and may even walk the walk, this will only go so far.
But there is a bigger contradiction than this, which has been overlooked by both the supermarkets and many of their critics. "The green movement," Terry Leahy tells us, "must become a mass movement in green consumption." But what about consuming less? Less is the one thing the superstores cannot sell us. As further efficiencies become harder to extract, their growth will eventually outstrip all their reductions in the use of energy. This is not Tesco’s problem alone: the green movement's economic alternatives still lack force.The market cannot replace government regulation of the environment. What incentive do corporations have to make the kinds of changes that are ultimately necessary when (as Joel Bakan has taught us) the corporation is a psychopath interested only in the relentless pursuit of profit and power. Corporations will never willingly cut into their bottom line in order to protect the environment or appease fickle consumers who may care about sustainability this week but will still want their goods as cheap as possible.
We need more government regulation of corporations (particularly where they intersect with the environment and human rights) if we are ever going to make a difference to the future (which is increasingly becoming the present) of our planet.
While corporations like Tesco and Walmart are saying all the right things it remains just that, talk, if they refuse to submit to independent audit of their environmental impact. And, as Monbiot notes, while they are pushing the big picture they are neglecting the small, everyday interventions that do so much more to protect our common future:
In his speech on Thursday, the company’s chief executive, Sir Terry Leahy, spoke of the sophisticated new refrigeration techniques Tesco will use, which will allow the chain to reduce its consumption of climate changing gases called hydrofluorocarbons. But at no point did he mention an environmental technology called the door. How can you claim your stores are sustainable if the fridges and freezers don’t have doors?And there you have it.