This week we had some good news – our very first fundraising application was successful. This means we now have the resources to take set up an office. Until now we have been a working from home and in places we like with free wi-fi ( I’d recommend the Regent pub on Liverpool Road) – an arrangement which has worked well but which really isn’t sustainable. So this week we were visiting potential offices and weighing up pros and cons. We could take up residence on ‘Silicon Roundabout’ with some exciting new web start ups, or take advantage of the serviced offices provided by the Ethical Property Company also in Old St. While we make our minds up it’s likely we’ll take up temporary residence at one of the ‘hubs’ in Angel and Kings Cross where there are lots of like-minded organisations. The Kings Cross venue has just opened and is a more social space complete with bar/coffee shop.
On the campaign front I was at a dinner hosted by PR firm Hills and Knowlton this week and was chatting to Dr Stuart Smith, their Head of Corporate Practice, who mentioned that he believed the firm 3M had at some stage adopted a corporate policy not to sell spare emissions permits.
A quick Google search revealed that the emissions trading scheme they were involved was an air quality policy established by the Clean Air Act in the US in the 1970’s – the very first manifestation of trading in emissions. “Since 3M’s goal is beyond compliance performance, many of 3M’s facilities have generated [spare permits]. 3M has adopted a corporate policy not to profit from the sales of [permits]. ” They basically handed them back to the issuing authorities, and interestingly, were able to claim tax deductions for the value of the effective ‘donation’ of the permits. There were also a couple of cases where they used the profit from the sale of permits to invest in community based projects which delivered a real and tangible improvement in air quality.
This case study is extremely encouraging – it shows that even as emissions trading was developing as a concept, progressive companies were being very inventive about how they used permits to demonstrate their socially responsible attitude. It seems odd that given the gravity of the threat of climate change that there is not as yet any sign of companies adopting the same attitude for carbon permits. This is what we are seeking to change and I’m looking forward to engaging some of the companies who were also at the dinner in discussions about how they could emulate 3M’s exemplary attitude.