Most Companies Say Trump Will Have ‘No Impact’ on Sustainability

Today GreenBiz released the results of its 2017 Green Economy survey. Over 400 large companies from a cross-section of industries answered the question, “What impact will the changes in the U.S. presidency and Congress have on your company’s sustainability strategy?”

You can breathe a sigh of relief. Despite having a president who says climate change is a hoax invented by the Chinese and House Republicans who voted to dump coal waste into rivers, 60 percent of companies with revenues greater than $1 billion said the current administration will have “no impact” on their sustainability strategy and they will move “full speed ahead.” That response is music to the ears.

Thirty-four percent said, “It will slow us down but not stop us.”

Larger companies were more likely to project no impact. Companies with revenues less than $1 billion were more likely to indicate that their progress would be slowed but not stopped by the Donald Trump administration.

Essentially, companies are saying Trump can’t build a wall around corporate sustainability.

The survey also asked, “How will your investment in renewable energy change?”

Once again, companies with over $1 billion in revenue seemed to have more robust long-term sustainability plans and were more likely to project growth in their renewable energy investments. Half of such firms said it would increase.

Sadly, 47 percent of company respondents said renewable investments would remain the same, while declining to say why. Only 3 percent of companies expected their investment in renewable energy to decrease.

Overall, this is still good news. If you want to know which companies are leading the way in clean energy and support them, you can check out Greenpeace’s Energy Report Card. Facebook, Apple and Google earned an A grade. Microsoft and Salesforce achieved a mediocre B. And Amazon Web Services received the lowest grades including an F for lack of energy transparency.

The 2017 Green Economy survey also polled companies on “What is the No. 1 environmental initiative for your company in 2017?”

The majority of companies said their top three environmental initiatives were to reduce energy use through efficiency, make sure green stays on the agenda, and engage with stakeholders.

Only 6 percent of polled business leaders said what impacted their company’s environmental decisions the most was uncertainty at the federal government level. This further shows how little an impact the current administration is likely to have on companies. Most companies ranked company leadership as having the biggest impact, followed by customer requirements and energy prices.

Green Biz discussed the survey results with over 60 sustainability leaders from Fortune 500 companies in its Executive Network, and the results will be announced on stage today at the Green Biz conference kicking off in Phoenix, Arizona. If you want to know more about the latest trends in sustainability, you can watch a live-stream of the mainstage sessions for free.

Overall, the results of this survey are encouraging and reinforce what many sustainability experts were already thinking: The sustainability train has already left the station. Nothing can stop it. The ultimate destination is 100 percent renewable energy.

What remains to be seen is what cities intend to do under the administration. The Seattle City Council made waves last week when it voted 9-0 to divest billions from Wells Fargo because it funded the Dakota Access Pipeline. Other cities such as Minneapolis; Boulder, Colorado; Santa Fe, New Mexico; and Portland have also shown interest in switching to financial institutions that have social and environmental principles. Maybe in the future a company will conduct a survey of cities and the administration’s impact on them.

Image credits: 1) Ales Krivec via Unsplash, 2) and 3) charts courtesy of GreenBiz

Corporate Responsibility

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Renee Farris

Renee is a social impact strategist who works with companies to help them focus on key social and environmental opportunities. She loves connecting with people so feel free to contact her at renee.a.farris@gmail.com.

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