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By Andrew Holland on Sep 24, 2014 with 5 responses

Business Leaders Join Call to Action on Climate Change

On Monday, September 22, I took part in the Climate Group’s annual kick-off of “Climate Week NYC.” We heard from political leaders like Secretary of State John Kerry, Executive Secretary of the UNFCC Christiana Figueres, French Foreign Minister Laurent  Fabius, and Ban Ki-moon the Secretary General of the UN. ASP helped arrange Secretary Kerry’s climate speech, which is worth reading in its entirety.

As someone working on climate policy in Washington, I’ve heard from these speakers on these issues before. Their leadership is important; we cannot effectively address climate change without political action – but it is not novel.

Likewise, when the UN climate summit meets at UN headquarters on Tuesday, September 23, the over 120 heads of state will prove significant in providing the national leadership that will set standards and provide direction for how to address climate change in both UN negotiations and at their national level.

On Sunday, we heard from a march of 300,000 people through the streets of Manhattan that they viewed climate change as a threat, deserving of concerted action by world leaders. So – politicians and the people are calling for action on climate change – that is important.

Business Leaders Taking Action on Climate Now

However, that is only part of the story. What was most critical for me was to see Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, on stage professing the need for businesses to move towards a low-carbon economy. Cook said: “we must not accept that there is a trade off between the economy and the environment…What we’ve found is that if you innovate and set the bar high, you can do both, and you must do both.”

Apple’s leadership on this is impressive, but it is by no means unique. Other businesses are active leaders in addressing climate change, and are making their voices heard during climate week. Philip Ryan, Chairman of Swiss Re Americas announced a new push to get multinational corporations to switch to renewable power, saying: “The transition to a low carbon economy will not be successful without a paradigm shift in the way we power our planet.” HP announced that it has set a new goal to reduce the emissions intensity of its product portfolio by 40% by 2020 (compared to 2010). Richard Branson, CEO and Founder of Virgin said: “It makes better business sense than ever to ensure we end the destruction of our natural resources and reduce our carbon output.” Branson further echoed other speakers throughout the day, saying that addressing climate change is “the biggest challenge and opportunity of our lifetimes.”

These statements about how business is working to meet the challenge of climate change marked the Climate Group’s launch of a new “We Mean Business” coalition along with a report “The Climate has Changed” that shows how businesses around the world are profiting by investing in low-carbon growth. As the Climate Group explains:

 We Mean Business is a powerful coalition of world-leading business and climate organizations, which have joined forces – for the first time – to create a unified business voice in support of decisive action to tackle climate change and transition to a low carbon future.

Founding partners are BSR, the B Team, CDP, Ceres, The Climate Group, the Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group (CLG) and WBCSD: the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, which together represent thousands of top companies and investors.

The coalition calls on other businesses to follow their lead on cutting emissions through measures such as increased renewable energy, big improvements in energy efficiency and adopting a carbon price, in order to build a vibrant low carbon economy and avoid runaway climate change, which the involved companies agree is a massive threat to businesses and the economy.

Too often in Washington we hear from the few loud voices saying that any action on climate change will necessarily cost jobs and destroy the economy. It is refreshing and important to hear from corporate leaders who are speaking to a receptive audience. They need to bring their message to Washington, and actively advocate for their position. Until the business voices in favor of clear action on climate change make their voices heard before policymakers – and base their endorsements and political donations around those voices – we will be stuck with a broken dialogue. On the other hand, this could signal a real turning point for climate action.

  1. By Forrest on October 7, 2014 at 8:16 am

    Sir Richard Branson was on the NPR for his recent book review. The interviewer was more interested in slamming him for missing the mark on company pledge to spend a billion dollars on global warming. The interview focus was to go down the list of liberal left talking point and make sure this business leader was on board. It was a warning shot that he better be giving testimony and support to left ideals. Later Eric Schmidt was accosted for likewise pledge. Rush Limbaugh has disclosed a left campaign of messaging that gives business a false impression of public. Companies get bombarded with threatening messages generated by computer and assembly line authors. A few paid publishes generate thousands of messages designed to intimidate business if not following lead of political proponents. This phenomena of rewarding corporate business per government power if they empower politics is an awful development of modern politics. Look at Warren Buffet insider connections and freedoms he has access to for the commitment of political support. .
    Why both the Left and right should hate this modern corruption aka crony capitalism is straightforward. Encouraging this will only result in empowering large corporations to become more powerful and bigger, also in doing so the rich become richer. Middle class will be soaked per need to sustain the mess with tax money as government has a devil of a time controlling the rich and powerful, but easily slam and extract wealth from middle class and small business. Also, the politically class has learned small business and middle class are cheap in supporting their power and contributions. Politicians are increasingly in it for themselves and understand the business of politics. They know how to game the country for respect, power, wealth, and historical reputation. These folks know how to hob knob within the elites within the politburo of black tie DC parties. They offer public rehearsed platitudes to placate their bad conscious of supporting corruption. The lower class will eventually suffer as these political shysters know fully the entitlements are unsustainable and will eventually run out of middle class tax money. It can end badly and quickly. So, I don’t share the positive feelings of business feeding into environmental politics. I do like business doing their thing upon seizing the opportunity to generate products and business that may sell. I don’t like them going the political route per capitalistic cronyism. Government should be all about empowering small business, increasing competition upon market place, supplying a wealth of easy consumer info, simplifying bureaucratic conformance measures per the quality of life issues and better return on government cost. I do think solutions all come from enterprising public armed with capability to make it happen and genius to invent. That gov’t at it’s best should empower this freedom, energize the ability, then step out of the way.

    • By Forrest on October 7, 2014 at 9:30 am

      The business of GW appears to be the apogee of crony capitalism. Politicians seek the power and wealth granted by hypothetical claims of humanity demise. Scientist all running to wealth and fame upon signing up to GW bandwagon. Corporations salivate upon harvest of political good will and easy money faucet. The rich glee over alternative energy investments that eliminate their high tax burdens and guarantee ROI per sticking it to ratepayers. Meanwhile the low cost low hanging fruit of GW solutions gain little attention. The big splash rewards for heavy duty gov’t intervention, corporate response, and political empowerment just to alluring. Effectual solutions involving real people whose concerns of lower cost solutions quickly go to the waste dump. Gov’t of the people would utilize the current strategy as a last resort. Instead take the path of minimal disruption to freedom and utilizing low cost solutions or ones that empower small business and consumers the most. Free market solutions preferred to heavy handed and always inefficient federal controls. What are some examples?

      . biomass energy is probably the best energy source per the problems of GW and the fuel empowers small business and cost the consumer little.
      . Same with anaerobic digesters, biofuel, micro CHP,
      . Grid power is the problem and best avoided
      . Roof top solar is the solution to grid power

      • By Forrest on October 7, 2014 at 10:24 am

        BTW, as often stated I’m not against any energy source, but believe we need a conservation program upon obtaining historical best value of national reserves of non renewable energy. Also, upon applying a bias to increase utilization of potentially less environmental harmful sources.
        For example the Western third of nation has ample hydro power and geo thermal, some of which goes undeveloped. This base power makes the grid power first choice. Environmental sensitive areas such as Galapagos and Hawaii best served by nuclear. Nuclear may, also, be best source of power for large urban areas. The energy source utilized for transportation, heating, cooling, and the rest. Solar can fit in their when possible.

        The rest of country served by wind if not cost prohibitive such as Midwest states, solar per Southern states, biomass either agricultural or forestry, natural gas, and the rest where appropriate. Maybe the feds best usefulness would be caretakers of national plan coordinating efforts of state management. Not to dictate, but manage, oversight, investigate, research, share knowledge, offer alternatives, and uncover corrupt practices.

  2. By Forrest on October 8, 2014 at 9:48 am

    If one were truly interested in minimizing GW, instead of the power it bestows, what good news that home made biodiesel works as well as the commercial product per Colorado State evaluation of farmers use of plain gasoline mixed with plain vegetable oil. Farmers can lower fuel costs by blending their own home grown fuel for diesel equipment. This sounds like an attractive solution for much of the rural community needs of energy. Poor nations could generate an income stream and develop low cost energy supply. Probably the same scenario with energy beets or sweet sorghum per ethanol process. These are low hanging fruits of GW solutions that empower people not politics.

    GW supporters must be thrilled of expectations of autonomous BEV running about metro areas piloting commuters whom have no need for private car, parking, or mass transit. How about the supply chain energy improvement of drone delivery? Nowadays commercial sector gobbles up the same BTU’s of energy as transportation. Some of the shopping waste could be dramatically improved by online shopping and robotic delivery. Same with agriculture per elimination of giant machinery thundering up and down fields being replace by a fleet of autonomous day and night drones quietly placing seeds, water, fertilizer per accurate positioning via survey type laser posts and satellite. Seed rows not needed. No mobile combine needed. Work and refueling subject to wind turbine power. Fields do best with no tillage, if heavy equipment can be eliminated. This would empower micro farms and backyard farming practices, as well. Computer control is cheap as well as drones. A combine is getting close to a 1 million dollar investment.

  3. By jfreed27 on October 14, 2014 at 7:33 pm

    When the hell will the Godzilla (of Ceres) do battle with the King Kong (of fossil fuels) in the political arena)??

    Unless Ceres drops Money Bombs like the Koch Bros are doing on their favorite candidate the hand wringing and good intentions of Ceres and Apple may be for naught.

    It is generally accepted by economists that a price on carbon would be the most effective single stroke that would at the same time reduce emissions and stimulate the economy.

    See: Carbon Tax, the Most Sensible Tax of All

    But the “fossil tools” in Congress will stand in opposition unless replaced by more “responsible adults”.

    A report by the blue ribbon panel at Regional Economic Models Inc show a carbon fee and dividend or CFD (with all fees rebated to households) would in 20 years

    a. reduce emission 3x faster than EPA regulations as market forces induce low carbon pathways – more than 50% reductions

    b. add almost 3 million jobs (due to the free market stimulus of the rebate)
    c. save hundreds of thousands of lives (pollution kills tens of thousands/year)

    d. add over $1 Trillion to the GDP.
    e. the government does not keep a dime

    See REMI Report

    Even though the CFD may be a conservative, free-market, small government solution (which it is) sometimes career trumps principle. So, Ceres and Apple, put your money on the line, the political line, that is.

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