In a country where the leaders of one political party continue to deny the science behind climate change, it would seem impossible to form a bipartisan coalition aimed at accelerating the decarbonization of the global economy. Nevertheless, a new campaign called World War Zero has adopted an approach that just might work.
World War Zero launched last weekend with the support of John Kerry, Arnold Schwarzenegger and other celebrities. The star power is certainly helpful in cutting through the media clutter, but there is an additional force driving the campaign.
Behind the list of famous names is a coalition with a strong bottom-line interest in the clean power transition—and in the threat climate change poses to national security.
The campaign is a partner of the American Security Project, a think tank aimed at encouraging a bipartisan approach to addressing threats to national security. In addition to climate change, the American Security Project lists terrorism, nuclear proliferation, energy challenges and economic wellbeing among its areas of focus.
The need to unite against common foes when U.S. interests are threatened would seem to go without saying. However, the problem is that today’s political leadership cannot agree on the nature of those foes.
The American Security Project attempts to achieve consensus by emphasizing the wider challenges of national security in today’s world:
“Gone are the days when a nation’s security could be measured by bombers and battleships. Security in this new era requires harnessing all of America’s strengths: the force of our diplomacy; the might of our military; the vigor and competitiveness of our economy; and the power of our ideals.”
That’s all well and good, but the problem is still how to bridge a political divide in which one side persists in denying the scientific consensus on climate change. That’s where something called the Business Council for American Security (BCAS) comes in.
As an affiliate of the American Security Council, BCAS provides the organization with a perspective on national security that can best be described through the lens of corporate social responsibility (CSR).
As expressed by the American Security Project, “Bringing the voice of enterprise into the national security dialogue will not only enhance ASP’s impact, it will enhance the role of business as a force for change.”
Business leaders are increasingly drawn to evidence that a strong corporate social responsibility profile is a necessary element in a successful company, regardless of the political affiliation of top executives.
As part of the CSR trend, business leaders have also helped to accelerate the renewable energy transition here in the U.S. and around the globe.
From the perspective of corporate social responsibility and military readiness, climate change is not a partisan issue at all. It is an issue of fundamental national concern.
Last week, for example, the American Security Project called attention to the impacts of climate change on military installations, and the steps that the Department of Defense is undertaking to address those impacts.
“Experts predict it will take years to rebuild both bases and cost billions of taxpayer dollars. In part due to the damage at Tyndall and Offutt Air Force Bases, the Air Force requested supplemental funding for this year, and an additional $3.7 billion for fiscal years 2020 and 2021.”
ASP further noted that “without the additional funding, the Air Force may need to forego regularly scheduled facility maintenance, ground combat aircraft, and cut flying time for non-deploying squadrons. Such cuts will affect military readiness and put U.S. national security at risk.”
ASP’s focus on the military impacts of climate change gives new life to the shop-worn slogan, “Support our troops!”
With that in mind, the choice of World War Zero as the title of the new campaign is no accident.
The campaign appeals to business leaders, political leaders and the general public to unite against a common foe, as “unlikely allies with one common mission: making the world respond to the climate crisis the same way we mobilized to win World War II,” the organizers write.
If that approach seems too optimistic, maybe so.
However, World War Zero is underpinned by a solid platform of corporate leadership on clean energy, clean technology and climate action. And that leadership has already begun to move the needle on bipartisan political action.
There is still a long way to go, but the World War Zero campaign could help amplify the voice of corporate leaders who see climate action as the key to their companies’ ability to survive, and thrive, in the coming years.
Image credit: Jem Sanchez/Pexels
Tina writes frequently for TriplePundit and other websites, with a focus on military, government and corporate sustainability, clean tech research and emerging energy technologies. She is a former Deputy Director of Public Affairs of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, and author of books and articles on recycling and other conservation themes. She is currently Deputy Director of Public Information for the County of Union, New Jersey. Views expressed here are her own and do not necessarily reflect agency policy.