In the late 1990s, DuPont voluntarily adopted the goals of the Kyoto Protocol, which meant they would cut their greenhouse gas emissions to less than half of 1991 levels. This led to a net savings of $6 for every ton of carbon dioxide that DuPont shed. Natural Capitalism uses this example to say, “Look, it works.” Hawken and the Lovinses go on to point out, “America could shed $300 billion a year from its energy bills using existing technology. The Earth’s climate can thus be protected, not at a cost, but at a profit.” This is the strand of thinking that others, including Thomas Friedman, have picked up on. It sounds really good to a lot of powerful people, powerful corporations, and powerful politicians beholden to those corporations.
...what does DuPont do with the money they save? They put it right back into making more chemicals. They put it back into growing their business because that’s what you have to do in capitalism. That’s the logic of the market. You have to grow or you lose out to the competition.
We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up