• This blog is maintained by Stephen Filler, a New York-based attorney with expertise in business law, contracts, intellectual property and litigation. He represents a wide variety of businesses, technology, media companies and individuals. He also provides legal and consulting services to sustainable, environmental and renewable energy businesses, non-profit organizations and trade organizations. He is on the board of the New York Solar Energy Industries Association and Secretary of the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater. His business website is www.nylawline.com.

    The Green Counsel consulting website is www.greencounsel.com.

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Does anyone know of any countries that do require that companies internalize all externalities? Such legislation would be impossible to enforce completely (given uncertainties and inability to quanitfy all external costs), but it would be interesting to see how it's worked out.

As for the idea that companies voluntarily acknowledge the "Triple Bottom Line", I think we've definitely seen a move in that direction in recent years. Sometimes this acknowledgement has only come when environmental problems have hit the conventional "bottom line" first, but there are certainly some companies out there (take Seventh Generation for instance - I've become a recent fiend of their blog www.InspredProtagonist.com) that get it, and are truly integrating a multi-generational "shadow of the future" into their business model.

Stephen Filler


Thanks for posting. I'm not aware of any countries that do require it.

As you point out, it would be a difficult task to define what counts as an externality, and then to define what it means to internalize it. And what is considered an externality changes over time -- twenty years ago, hardly anyone would have considered CO2 emissions a externality because no one recognized that CO2 emissions were causing global warming.

But just because there may be difficult definitional issues doesn't mean that governments cannot benefit businesses, through tax incentives or otherwise, that undertake business methods that reduce negative externalities.

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