We Need to Reposition Copenhagen

Harvard Business School professor Robert Eccles comments on a recent video interview with Peter Brabeck, the Chairman of Nestle.
  • Transcript


Question: What do you make of the outcome of the Copenhagen talks, as discussed by Peter Brabeck? 

Robert Eccles: I was disappointed in the talks in Copenhagen, I think there was a lot of expectations, maybe expectations were greater than they should’ve been. This is not an area of expertise of mine, how things get negotiated on a global basis. So whatever views I have would be those of a reasonably well-informed citizen and somewhat casual observer. But I can say that in looking at the tape at Peter, and there’s always the danger that since I just wrote a book on integrated reporting, I’m a hammer and everything looks like a nail. But as I watched his tape and he made a compelling argument for why simply jumping to bio-fuels was not a logical conclusion. He discussed the difference between oil and bio-fuels in terms of the amount of water that needs to be used and for bio-fuels, the plant matter that could be food and used in another way. I was saying to myself, "If we were thinking about climate change, just climate change, in a more integrated way, and we weren’t just focused on carbon, but if we were thinking carbon, we were thinking water, we were thinking food, we were thinking about what the relationships are, what the trade-offs are..." because there’s tough choices that have to be made. It’s easy to say we can optimize across every environmental dimension while we’re optimizing across financial performance and quality of life, but that’s not the world we live in. I think in some cases, we can do better on all counts. In other cases, tough choices have to be made. 

And what Peter’s video clip said to me was, if we were taking a more integrated view and we were looking at data and analyzing data in a more integrated way, I think we could be making much better decisions.

Recorded on April 19, 2010