IN recent years, there has been a growing emphasis on adopting sustainable practices and achieving Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) goals.

While the framework and aspirations of ESG are commendable, there are practicalities and challenges associated with transitioning to a green economy, focusing on the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs), sustainable packaging and cultural behavioural shifts.

Electric vehicles are often touted as a cornerstone of a sustainable future. They promise reduced greenhouse gas emissions and a significant reduction in reliance on fossil fuels.

However, several factors need to be considered. First, EVs are typically more expensive than their internal combustion engine counterparts. The high upfront cost is a significant barrier for many consumers, especially in developing economies.

Additionally, the cost of maintenance, although generally lower for EVs, can be prohibitive due to the expensive battery replacements and specialised repairs required.

The success of EVs also relies heavily on the availability of charging infrastructure. In many regions, this infrastructure is underdeveloped, making long-distance travel and daily commuting challenging. Without significant investment in charging stations, the widespread adoption of EVs remains unlikely. Moreover, many consumers are concerned about the limited range of EVs compared with traditional vehicles.

While technology is improving and newer models offer greater range, this remains a psychological barrier that affects consumer confidence. For many, cars are not just a means of transport but also a status symbol and an integral part of their lifestyle. Transitioning to EVs requires a cultural shift that may take time to materialise.

The shift towards sustainable packaging is another crucial aspect of a green economy. However, the reality is that plastic, especially single-use plastic, remains the most cost-effective option for many consumers and businesses.

Sustainable alternatives, such as biodegradable or recyclable materials, often come at a higher price. For consumers and businesses operating on tight budgets, the added cost can be a deterrent.

Plastic is versatile, durable and convenient. It is used extensively because it meets the practical needs of consumers and businesses efficiently. Many people are unaware of the environmental impact of single-use plastics and the benefits of sustainable alternatives. Education and awareness campaigns are essential to drive behavioural change.

The success of ESG initiatives relies not just on policy and technology but also on significant behavioural and cultural changes.

Carpooling is often suggested as a way to reduce traffic congestion and emissions. However, the feasibility of carpooling is limited by factors such as varying schedules and the convenience of personal transportation.

An alternative approach can be to stagger work hours to reduce peak traffic, thereby making carpooling more practical. Rethinking traditional working hours can have a significant impact on reducing traffic congestion and improving work-life balance.

Flexible work schedules and remote working options can contribute to a reduction in emissions and improve overall productivity.

Not all ESG initiatives require massive expenditures or technological advancements. Simple changes, such as promoting recycling, reducing energy consumption and encouraging public transportation, can have a profound impact. It is essential to focus on practical and attainable goals that can be implemented without burdening the public.

While the goals of ESG are admirable and necessary for a sustainable future, it is crucial to approach these goals pragmatically.

Policymakers and businesses must ensure that the transition to a green economy does not disproportionately burden the public. This requires a thorough analysis of cultural behaviours, economic conditions and practical challenges. Ultimately, the success of ESG initiatives lies in their ability to integrate seamlessly into the daily lives of individuals and businesses.

By focusing on attainable changes and fostering a culture of sustainability, we can move towards a greener future without imposing undue hardships on society. The journey towards a sustainable future is a collective effort, and it begins with understanding and addressing the real-world challenges and limitations that we face.

Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye

Kuala Lumpur