Being green, in the red


Corporations today are definitely paying attention to environmental issues and being eco-friendly, or “green.” Even though man-made global warming has been debunked and its cause self-imploded since the revelation of scandalous scientists and climatologists being creative with their research data, I believe that it doesn’t mean our Earth is fine and dandy. Perhaps global warming was a fraud, but issues such as deforestation, air pollution, ocean pollution, etc. cannot be ignored. Companies with green initiatives should be applauded for their efforts, but sometimes I wonder if they are trying too hard and at the expense of shareholders.

First, if you are a publicly-traded company and anybody can own your company shares, then the company executives’ foremost concern should be to profit the shareholders within the boundaries of law and regulations. Recently I wrote about Alcatel-Lucent’s depressing 1Q2010 results — down almost 10% YoY and a stock price that’s going nowhere. The company exists in a highly competitive market with competitors that are multiples of its size. It’s a tough situation, especially in this weakened economy. Then I come across this post from ALU’s official blog about the company’s leadership and participation at the Clean Technology Showcase in Washington, D.C., sponsored by the Federal Communications Commission:

On May 18, we were among several industry leaders, technology and energy policymakers, state governments and foreign embassies that participated in the FCC’s Clean Technology Showcase in Washington, D.C., which highlighted developments in communications technology and energy efficiency.  FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski hosted the event, which included U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Federal Energy Regulatory Chairman Jon Wellinghoff as special guests [you can find out more on http://blog.broadband.gov]. Other demonstrators included Ericsson, GE, Panasonic, Google and Samsung.

During the event, we highlighted our leadership role in GreenTouch™, the research consortium initiated by Bell Labs, and displayed recent advances in modular cooling, in sustainable power for mobile base stations, and the recent European Commission recognition with its Sustainable Energy Europe Award for Alcatel-Lucent’s Alternative Energy Program [read more in this post].

Was it more about being green or being in Washington? In 2009 the company spent nearly $2 million in lobbying and almost half a million dollars have already been spent in 2010. How much money was also spent just to be green? How would the balance sheets and income statements look if all the “green cash” was re-allocated to R&D, product development, sales and marketing, etc.?

Having a green conscious is great, but what if it’s only making the shareholders see red?

And no, I am not an investor in Alcatel-Lucent.

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