My Paris Op-Ed
So, I wrote an Op-Ed about 6 weeks ago and shopped it out to the New York Times, Washington Post, and other papers. Unfortunately, no one picked it up - I think because I was a little late getting it written.
Nonetheless, I think it is still important to share. My thoughts then are still my thoughts now. Enjoy!
Much has been made of the President’s recent decision to leave the Paris Climate accord. This decision should not come as a surprise to anyone as he has made several moves to fulfill his campaign promises, and “cancelling” the Paris Agreement was one of them.
We knew back in November (and before that time, if you were paying attention to the campaign) what was on the agenda. In my post-election note to clients, I said:
"Now more than ever, consumers and investors need to vote with their dollars. The choices that we make matter. The legislation that will not happen in Washington must happen in corporate board rooms. I am more convinced than ever that responsible investing is the way to move forward."
Unfortunately, this decision by our country’s leaders could cede technological leadership to China and other countries. Government investment in basic science and development of new technologies has been a key component of the United States global leadership for generations. You know it’s a big deal when the CEO of Goldman Sachs, Lloyd Blankfein, goes on record by calling the decision a “setback” for the country’s “leadership position in the world.”
But realistically, nothing has changed with this decision. Moving out of the Paris Accord is a 4-year process with many moving parts. It is possible that a new President in 2020 can and will re-commit to the Accord.
More importantly though, what I see is that this decision has motivated a number of very powerful groups to step-up their efforts to tackle climate change. The ‘We are still in’ movement (of which Earth Equity Advisors is a signatory) includes a list of municipalities, universities and companies that are still committed to upholding the principles of the agreement.
In a letter to employees, Apple CEO Tim Cook said, “Climate change is real and we all share a responsibility to fight it. I want to reassure you that today’s developments will have no impact on Apple’s efforts to protect the environment.” That sentiment was echoed by many corporate executives.
The move has also spawned the creation of the US Climate Alliance – a collection of individual states that are continuing to support the Paris Agreement. Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg pledged to donate $15 million to fulfill the United States commitment to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
In my recent interviews with the Wall Street Journal and local radio stations in Asheville and Atlanta, I have told journalists and hosts the same thing: the train has left the station on both climate change and our response to it. In terms of climate change, we are already experiencing its effects and we need to employ the strategies of both sustainability and resilience: sustainability to limit climate change’s impact and resilience to deal with the consequences.
From a business perspective, we’re seeing these strategies integrated in rapid fashion. Companies have already committed billions of dollars to research and development, manufacturing, systems and operations to mitigate their environmental impact and where possible, have a positive impact. Sustainability and resilience tactics are written into the business plans of the nearly 2200 B Corporations around the world.
While I am not happy with President Trump’s decision to leave the Paris Climate Accord because I believe it sends the wrong message to the world, I am confident in the power of responsible businesses to maintain the momentum we have created. From an investment perspective, as I said in November, “I am more convinced than ever that responsible investing is the way to move forward.”