FTC To Update Green Marketing Guidelines A Year Earlier

FTC LogoDon’t know if it’s because I’m paying more attention lately or because all this greenness is coming to a head. Or maybe its the holiday season and our cultural reflexivity toward buying stuff. But there seem to be more reports about green business practices, green marketing and other sustainable business efforts every day. And it’s not just me who’s noticed it; according to several reports around the Web just this week, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has accelerated its plans to review its decade-old green marketing guidelines in response to a recent increase in green advertising claims. When was the last time you heard of a government agency doing something before it originally planned to? Things must be getting bad.

According to a Washing Post article this week,

“The FTC, which was scheduled to review its guidelines in 2009, said that on Jan. 8, in the first of a series of public meetings, it would examine carbon offsets and renewable energy certificates that claim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in one place to offset emissions elsewhere.”

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Green Business Solutions Are The Wanted Wave Of The Future

Why does there continue to be so much resistance to go green when more than ample evidence shows that businesses are benefiting and consumers want it?

Two studies that have come across my desktop in the past week show that, contrary to the belief of many chambers of commerce across this country, if the tide isn’t at least turning, we may reach a tipping point in the near future.

The first, a very recent study just released by major US marketing and branding agency BBMG shows that consumers want more than just promises from companies when it comes to green marketing. This should come as a shock to no one. Their Conscious Consumer Report, released November 6, reveals that:

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Hillary Updates Her Energy Policy

Unfortunately, Hillary Clinton didn’t comment on my blog post the other day about the democratic candidates and their energy policies. However, she may have read it because since I posted she has updated her site with an expanded energy policy. (Perhaps I wasn’t the only one disappointed in what she had to say during the debate?) Luckily, a friend of mine informed me of the update.

While I remain skeptical of anything the candidates put forth, I think her latest plan brings her back up toward the top of the pack on this subject. However, it remains to be seen how successful any of the candidates can be with these proposed energy policies. That said, the republicans aren’t even on the same block in this debate.

If you haven’t seen it yet, you can see Hillary’s updated plan here on her site.

Where Do The Democratic Candidates Stand On Energy Policy?

There wasn’t much on America’s energy policy to report on during last night’s democratic presidential debate, but then there’s never time to focus on any one topic for very long in one of these things. One thing’s for sure though—and Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd said it fairly well—America needs a new energy plan. We need new leadership, he said. Or, any leadership, I say.

I was glad I caught the debate because it gave me perspective on these candidates that I didn’t have before. That’s what debates are for, right?

So afterward, I went to each of their Web sites to dig a little deeper into their energy policies. To be fair, I used the same search criteria to find them via Google: “[candidate’s name] energy plan.” There was definitely a bit out there, and it wasn’t difficult to find the energy portion of each candidate’s site (At least they seemed to be handling the search marketing well.). But when I got there, it was obvious they had different levels of commitment to energy and expertise in delivering the message via their site. And it’s hard to say exactly which of the above influenced my decision more. For example, does Hilary really have the best energy plan but she just doesn’t know how to convey that via the Web? My guess is no.

Without getting into each component of each candidate’s energy position on each of their sites, here’s how the top candidates stack up for me:

Chris Dodd has the best presentation of his energy policy and the best way of doing it on his site. The points are clearly outlined and they’re good. In particular, I appreciate his stance on energy education—a point I didn’t find within any other candidate’s plan:

Create a technical education curriculum that trains a new generation of automobile mechanics, electricians, plumbers, and construction workers to install, repair and maintain energy efficient goods across the spectrum, from cars to lamps. Training programs will:
• Assure consumers that they can use their energy efficient products without having to worry about what happens when they break.
• Create a new sector of jobs to meet the newly created demand for workers with specialized skills.

His is also the most Web 2.0-friendly site, with YouTube videos and a blogger who obviously is tasked with nothing other than blogging.

Bill Richardson’s plan is the next best. He lays out some very concrete goals:

• Cut Oil Demand: 50% by 2020.
• Create New Efficiencies And Energy Sources in the Electrical Sector: 50% by 2040.
• Dramatically Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions: 90% by 2050.

Joe Biden and Barack Obama tie for a not-so-close third. Obama’s plan is quite detailed and he, too, lays out some goals, including a cap-and-trade program and an investment in a clean energy economy and American Jobs.

Biden’s policy is clearly laid out (and available for PDF download), but it’s lacking on details. The biggest downfall I see is his heavy reliance on corn as a biofuel and our nation’s farmland to produce it. It’s not that I’m against the use of biofuels, I’m just not convinced that growing corn in the heartland is necessarily the best option.

From there it just gets worse. Edwards gets kudos for having a good starting point, but his plan isn’t very detailed and definitely aimed at the larger end of things: big business, oil companies and the government. And I don’t see any specifics.

Hillary doesn’t even seem to be in the game. Among very few other things, her plan calls for a goal of reducing “pollution” by 80% by 2050, but that doesn’t tell me anything.

It seems that Kucinich’s energy platform is simply anti-nuclear power, with little else about ways to reduce consumption or increase alternative energy.

This is by no means an endorsement of any of these candidates. I haven’t made up my mind yet and I doubt an endorsement from me would mean much. But a focus on energy policy should be important to anyone or any business.