By Bob Keefe
Scientists in lab coats strolled side-by-side with schoolkids from the Bronx and Lorax-lovers carrying Dr. Seussian-like Truffula trees. But also among the 200,000 participants in the People’s Climate March in Washington were Silicon Valley investors, corporate CEOs and working-class Americans from all across the country.
The message they carried was among the most prevalent at the march: Millions of good jobs are at stake if President Donald Trump and members of Congress continue taking us backward on climate and clean-energy policies.
Not too long ago, it might have seemed odd to see businesspeople marching alongside environmentalists and college students at a rally for the earth.
But that was before clean energy became one of the fastest-growing job markets in the country, now employing more than 3 million workers. That was before business leaders realized not acting on climate change is risky business that comes with high economic costs. And that was before American investors recognized that America continues to fall behind other countries in clean energy because of its short-sighted policies, which will cost us all – literally – in the future.
Businesspeople are doing more than just marching, too.
This week members of my organization, E2, and nearly 100 other business leaders from across the country will meet with members of Congress – about 60 Republican and Democrat offices in all – to discuss the economic benefits of clean energy and action on climate change, and the economic costs of not taking action. The first National Business Climate and Clean Energy Advocacy Day includes members of E2 and about 10 other business and sustainable industry groups.
Businesses are taking action in other ways too.
More than 1,000 businesses have signed on to a letter demanding that President Trump and members of Congress do more to advance low-carbon policies, including – most importantly – keeping America’s promises to the world that we agreed to as part of the historic Paris climate agreement.
Fully half of Fortune 500 companies have set their own climate and clean-energy goals, because they realize it’s good for both the planet and their bottom line.
And like most Americans, businesspeople aren’t buying the Trump administration’s claims that we have to choose between jobs or a good environment. In a recent Politico/Harvard University survey, only 21 percent of Americans said they agree with the Trump administration’s claim that addressing climate change will cost jobs.
President Trump has proclaimed he wants to be "the greatest jobs president that God ever created."
But with so many other business leaders stepping up, speaking out and taking their own action in support of clean energy and climate change, it begs a question: Why doesn’t our businessman-president get it?
Images courtesy of E2
Bob Keefe is executive director of E2, a national, nonpartisan group of business owners, investors and others who advocate for policies that are good for the economy and good for the environment. Learn more at www.e2.org