Bugs Bunny

Bugs Bunny & corporate climate change favor clean energy

American corporate culture has stumbled upon energy efficiency and sustainability -- a lot like Bugs Bunny and Daffy did in the "Abominable Snow Rabbit."

In the classic cartoon, the Looney Tunes heroes are bound for Palm Springs but take a wrong turn. As Daffy says, "I told you we should have turned west at East St. Louis!"

Likewise, corporations on their endless search for savings and cost reductions have found a more people friendly method than simply cutting jobs. And they're finding sustainability not only lucrative but image enhancing.

Wall Street goes green

Recent green-minded announcements by iconic brands McDonalds and PepsiCo and many other lesser known but equally significant companies illustrate the trend. Yet they stand in stark contrast to the cold shoulder offered the topic by self-described business friendly GOP leaders.

PepsiCo's Frito-Lay North America division announces it will roll out eight new electric trucks in the Boston area, while McDonald's says customers (64 million per day) will see greener changes in the year ahead.

Statements like these provide insight to a movement gaining quiet but steady momentum with each fiscal quarter.

"We have set a goal of becoming the most fuel efficient fleet in the country," says Mike O'Connell, Frito-Lay's senior director of fleet, in prepared remarks. His company's fleet, he says, is the nation's seventh largest privately owned.

And Bob Langert, McDonald's vice president for sustainability, tells Marc Gunther of Greenbiz.com: "We're on a path to mainstream sustainability. This is transformational for us. We want to be bolder, and we want to make a bigger impact."

Renewables in stealth mode

Less visible companies are also making moves into the green zone. For instance, London-based Greycon Ltd., which provides optimization software worldwide, is offering limited free consulting services to its customers that have solar systems. The idea, officials say, is to "support manufacturers that are progressively driving sustainability efforts within their industry."

In a 2007 study, Shelly Fust and Lisa Walker of Los Angeles-based management consultant Korn/Ferry International say companies began to embrace sustainability to gain competitive advantage. They liken the payoff to the total quality management approach that has served companies like Toyota and Motorola so well, acceleration problems aside. "Companies that embrace a high-quality, holistic approach to corporate sustainability are more likely to address short-term needs while positioning themselves for long-term success," Fust and Walker write.

So, while it appears many politicians ignore or refute climate change, their corporate base of support may be headed in a different direction.

The electorate goes green

And if this California survey is any indication, the rank and file may not be too far behind. Commissioned by the California League of Conservation Voters, the survey finds that 63 percent of independent voters believe in climate change and see it as a major problem that needs to be addressed, according to KQED's Climate Watch blog.

As McDonald's CEO Jim Skinner says: "We will continue to use our size, scope and influence to make a positive difference for children, families and communities around the world."

Some believe talking about global warming is the problem. A petition opposing cap and trade of carbon dioxide emissions championed by GlobalClimateScam.com has generated 183,999 letters and emails sent to Congress, the site says.

Apparent fraud?

The petition in part says: "I do hereby petition Congress to immediately cease all climate change legislation and instead conduct a formal investigation into the apparent fraud that has been perpetrated upon the American people."

I prefer the Abomidable Snowman's take. In the 1961 episode, he grabs Daffy, squeezes him and says he wants to name him George. Eventually, Bugs and Daffy befriend Abomidable and convince him to head to Palm Springs with them, where he melts.

If GlobalClimateScam.com is wrong and we are headed for massive environmental change due to global warming, the snowman wouldn't be safe in the Himalayas either.