Sustainable finance and green package

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By JOSÉ MACHADO MOITA NETO*

Companies appropriate the scientific or technical sense to resignify them in another way that meets their business conveniences

The Brazilian Business Council for Sustainable Development (CEBDS) decided to point out to the Federal Government the priority topics for its members (about 100 companies). This is the document “CEBDS Recommendations for the Green Package”. This 36-page document released on 28/07/2023 is available for download in the entity's publications section.[I]

Therefore, the moment of the first public confession arrives: Too Long, Didn't Read (TLDR[ii]). It is already current practice among entities that publish extensive documents to create a reduced version with the essentials of the message you want to convey. This is the executive summary.[iii]

When reading any document, it is necessary to let go of some certainties and always check whether the scientific or technical meaning has not been appropriated and re-signified in another way. So it's time for my second confession: I used Google's artificial intelligence (Bard) for this purpose and put a shared access link as a footnote in these situations.

Announcement of an “Ecological Transition Plan”[iv] did not correspond with the rudiments of ecology that I learned. However, with the aid of artificial intelligence, the expression does not deserve criticism. It is part of a set of widely circulated discourses that, by co-opting scientific and technical terms, re-signify them to meet objectives other than what the common imagination can lead to. This re-signification is not naive: the imaginary about nature is evoked by the word “ecological” (it seems like something good), also when a situation is not good it is necessary to change (transition) before that it is necessary to make a “Plan”.

CEBDS's place of speech is intimidating: "We represent the largest business groups in the country, with combined revenue equivalent to 47% of GDP." In other words, we control almost half of the Brazilian economy. Such a statement should have no weight for the government as we do not live under the aegis of the cassava constitution nor have we adopted the census vote.[v]

Such a statement should also have no effect on society, as the most relevant indicator of the economic activity of these companies should be the number of direct jobs generated. Unfortunately, we do not carry out an adequate critique of current environmental discourses.

By presenting the topic of sustainable finance, it aims, above all, to guarantee protection and investment by the state as a condition for acting in this “ecological transition”. The speech has an impeccable economic logic: it resembles the logic of compensation that slave owners received for economic losses with abolition. The themes are (a) Regulated carbon market and the defense of the cap-and-trade model,[vi] (b) Green Taxonomy[vii] which foresees the use of public resources on a scale (does it stay out? who benefits?) and c) Public incentive policies which should be based on economic instruments.[viii]

I don't know whether to ask a simple question or shout like the boy who said "The king is naked". Who will make this “Plan” does not correspond exactly to who created the situation for which drastic changes are required? Machiavelli's manual is very up-to-date regarding environmental corporate practices: wholesale evil and retail goodness. The results of evil (wholesale) are painted as economic realism for a rapt audience of shareholders. Small acts of kindness (retail) are widely disseminated throughout society. The competence of both discourses are appropriated by governments and transformed into a strategic vision of the future, in actions of the present or in memory of the past.

One question remains about my own speech: why so much pessimism? The answer does not lie in artificial intelligence: “It is” worth checking the environmental history of these companies!

*José Machado Moita Neto is a retired professor at UFPI and researcher at UFDPar.

Notes


[I] https://cebds.org/publicacoes/

[ii] https://g.co/bard/share/38d1c4fcf2ef

[iii] https://g.co/bard/share/62cf5091605b

[iv] https://g.co/bard/share/e960e92450ca

[v] https://g.co/bard/share/fc91232715e0

[vi] https://g.co/bard/share/cbcfa80e1696

[vii] https://g.co/bard/share/1036d09d4e63

[viii] https://g.co/bard/share/d79aaa4ab5a5


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