Climate Leadership: Not a Moment to Lose
With the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement, several setbacks loom for global efforts to address climate change. According to climate scientist Michael Oppenheimer, these setbacks include:
- The imminence of a 2-degree C warming, which the IPCC calls “dangerous climate change.”
- Probable lack of transparency within the Paris agreement with the absence of the U.S., as China’s tendency is to obfuscate; this would lead to lower accountability and inadequate results.
- Hurting business by withdrawing uniform federal regulation, which would mean different state regulations that would complicate business operations.
- Reduced demand for clean technologies due to fewer incentives, although market prices continue to come down.
So far, the business sector has responded with concern and opposition. Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, withdrew his participation in U.S. presidential councils. Jeff Immelt, head of General Electric, has also expressed disappointment. A number of large companies, including Apple, Facebook, Google, Salesforce, and Microsoft, ran an advertisement stating their support for the Paris Agreement for business reasons.
On a hopeful note, industry is already doing a lot to protect its bottom line, which business leaders understand is connected to sustainability and climate change leadership. Some notable examples:
- Several Facebook data centers are powered by 100% clean and renewable energy.
- Apple’s new campus runs mostly on solar panels.
- Walmart and Exxon are stepping up to reduce their climate impact.
Cities are also getting fired up, with the Climate Mayors group, comprising 88 mayors, writing to Trump expressing its commitment to continue to lead by increasing investments in renewable energy. The United States Climate Alliance has also formed, along with an unnamed group with several states, cities, and university presidents participating.
As we face what is one of the worst presidential decisions ever, it is important to stay focused and fight even harder for climate stability. Businesses are doing just that. There is not a moment to lose.