May 2010 – Green Papers: Issue III

In a carefully co-ordinated campaign, environmental groups in Europe and North America are ‘greenmailing’ major companies in Europe and the US to suspend purchase of paper products and palm oil from Indonesian and Chinese producers. Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth in Europe, and Rainforest Action Network (RAN) in the US, have threatened to blacken the standing of luxury goods companies, major retail chains and major producers of grocery products unless they submit to Greenpeace demands. The assertions that these companies endorse serious damage to the environment by purchasing from Indonesian suppliers are spurious. Yet some of the companies — Gucci, Nestle and Unilever — have bowed to threats to damage their brand names and leading branded products. They justify this by the belief that it will preserve their carefully developed reputations as leading practitioners of corporate social responsibility (CSR). In reality, what they have done is adopt the radical Green view of how business should behave. They have broken two golden rules shareholders expect CSR to deliver: protection of core business and high ethical standards.

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