Blogs & Comment

Winners & Losers: Ikea goes green, Big Tobacco flames out

$15 billion isn’t cool. You know what’s cool? $120 billion


Still no accountability for marriages ruined in the kitchen aisle


The world’s largest furniture maker has pledged to spend €600 million to ensure all of its stores and factories are powered by clean energy sources by 2020. Its charitable arm, meanwhile, will spend €400 million over the same time period to help poor nations cope with the effects of climate change, which, like death, is basically inevitable. The initiative stems in part from a survey that found only 41% of Ikea customers see it as a company that “takes social and environmental responsibility,” below its goal of 70% by 2015. Over the past six years, Ikea has invested €1.5 billion to own and operate 314 wind turbines and install 700,000 solar panels on its roofs, using only a handful of hex keys. Ikea, which consumes 1% of the world’s commercially logged wood, is also vowing to grow as many trees as it cuts down. Chief executive Peter Agnefjall says that none of these initiatives will push up prices, because if there’s one thing consumers will not tolerate in a fight to save the human race, it’s inconveniencing themselves.

 Big Tobacco

Tobacco can also be harmful to your balance sheet

Cigarette cartons

A Quebec judge ordered three tobacco companies to pay $15.6 billion to one million smokers and their heirs this week, after determining the companies—Imperial Tobacco, Rothmans, Benson & Hedges, and JTI-Macdonald—didn’t fully disclose the dangers of cigarettes to health authorities or the public. Imperial was slapped with the biggest fine ($10.5 billion) in the two class-action suits, that spanned 1950 to 1998. Apparently unsatisfied with the level of villainy already ascribed to tobacco companies, Imperial acted with “bad-faith efforts” to block court discovery by sending historical research reports to an outside law firm, which later destroyed the documents. The companies are planning to appeal. “The judgement…seeks to relieve adult consumers of any responsibility for their actions,” said a lawyer for Imperial in an attempt to relieve the multibillion-dollar company of any responsibility for its actions. All of the provinces have launched their own suits against the tobacco industry, and are seeking $120 billion collectively. Meanwhile, tobacco companies are experimenting with novel ways to get nicotine into your body, including absorbing it through your gums. The maker of this product, called snus, is trying to convince the Food and Drug Administration in the U.S. that it’s less harmful than traditional smoking, a statement that will surely not come back to haunt it.