American businesses have a message for the newly-elected U.S. president: Climate change is real. And it needs to be addressed. Now.
More than 700 businesses sent an open letter to President Donald Trump, Congress and former President Barack Obama calling for a “low-carbon USA” that relies on innovative green energy and implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement.
“We want the U.S. economy to be energy efficient and powered by low-carbon energy,” the business leaders stated in their letter. “Cost-effective and innovative solutions can help us achieve these objectives. Failure to build a low-carbon economy puts American prosperity at risk.”
The initiative, which was coordinated by a host of environmental and business organizations including Ceres, the Environmental Defense Fund and Environmental Entrepreneurs, highlights three major concerns:
- Continuation of low-carbon policies to allow the U.S. to meet or exceed its promised national commitment;
- Investment in the low-carbon economy at home and abroad in order to give financial decision-makers clarity and boost the confidence of investors worldwide;
- Continued U.S. participation in the Paris Agreement, in order to provide the long-term direction needed to keep global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius
Of course, this is likely not the kind of welcome-to-the-White-House missive that Trump expects to see in his first week in office. His now-famous declaration that climate change is a “hoax” set the tone for what many businesses have expected from the administration’s first 100 days and has worried those who work hard to incorporate sustainable measures into their businesses.
“Thousands of employees and millions of sellers rely on eBay for their livelihoods, and that’s a responsibility we take very seriously,” eBay’s director of global impact, Lori Duvall, said in an accompanying statement.
Sealed Air CEO Jerome Peribere also stressed his company’s commitment to sustainable measures that are supported by federal policies. “At Sealed Air, we are proud to reaffirm our commitment to this objective and to underline the important role that businesses have in combating climate change.”
The signers also include non-governmental organizations that have placed sustainability at the center of their social and environmental initiatives, such as the religious organizations Sisters of Charity of New York and the Sisters of St. Francis.
What may speak the loudest to the new administration as it plans out its stance is the broad spectrum of companies that have spoken up for a positive approach to combating climate change. With just about every sector of industry represented on the letter (and an invitation for more to sign), the backers represent billions of dollars of U.S. revenue.
That’s not to say they will have an easy time convincing Trump. For one, plenty of voices would chime in to remind him of the policies that he backed when he campaigned for election — and their support.
“I don’t think he should take their advice,” Mario Lewis told PRI’s The World. Lewis is a senior fellow at the right-wing Competitive Enterprise Institute, which is known for its endorsement of limited government and has referred to climate change as “alarmism.”
Lewis wasted no time in attempting to discredit the letter’s signers by suggesting they had commercial interest, not altruistic or compelling reasons, to support things like the Paris agreement.
Irrespective of how Lewis sizes up their message, these business leaders aren’t alone in their concerns. Trump also received a written appeal from 706 physics and astronomy experts imploring him to make climate change an “urgent priority”on his to-do list. And like U.S. corporations that support addressing global warming, they touch on the very issue that is critical to a sustainable and viable Trump White House: protecting and creating jobs.
“Addressing climate change will involve short-term costs, but will also mean new investments, new jobs and new opportunities for global leadership; things that Americans around the country will welcome,” the letter, which arrived to at Trump Tower last Wednesday, noted.
So, will Trump listen to a cadre of pro-sustainability companies and academia? And how will he factor that into his agenda, which he said this week includes “cutting [government] regulations by 75 percent, maybe more?”
The new president may have sized up his potential for intercepting research into global warming and other issues he doesn’t agree with. But he’ll likely have a harder time dismantling the decades-long efforts of sustainable businesses that know climate change is no hoax.
Image credit: Lowcarbonusa.org