Posted on May 16, 2017 by Charles F. Becker
Addressing environmental issues on a world scale will always be a difficult proposition. The most recent attempt, the Paris Climate Accord, was no exception. Every nation, leader and business had an opinion on what needed to be done. Eventually, enough countries signed on to allow the Paris Agreement to be deemed “in force.”
What was surprising about the discussions leading up to the Agreement was that 81 companies chose to publicly declare they would take action to reduce their emissions. The companies included Wal-Mart, Mars, IKEA, Siemens, Amazon, GE, GM and Best Buy. Not a bad group of supporters. The declarations were, of course, prior to the election and President Trump is now deciding whether the United States is better served being out of the Paris Agreement.
One would think that after the election, there might be some changes in corporate support for the Accord. But not so. Most of the signing companies, and hundreds more, have reaffirmed their commitment to reduce their emissions. Even coal companies have expressed support. In making his decision on Paris, the President might want to consider the viewpoint of those businesses. For example, in a March statement to Bloomberg, representatives of Apple, Amazon, Google and Microsoft said:
We believe that strong, clean energy and climate policies, like the Clean Power Plan, can make renewable energy supplies more robust and address the serious threat of climate change while supporting American competitiveness, innovation and job growth.
A common theme from all of the corporate supporters is to acknowledge that climate change is real and that they want to do something about it for the good of the planet.
I have to say, however, if that’s really what the businesses believe, they aren’t helping their cause by saying it to a President who has very publicly advanced a contrary view. The good news is, these businesses didn’t really mean it. They were just setting out alternative facts. Businesses care about “shareholder value” — what action will be best for the bottom line. That’s not a shocking concept and it provides a very understandable basis for supporting the Paris Agreement. They just need to be willing to explain it better. I believe this is the letter the companies really meant to send:
Dear President Trump:
Regarding your consideration of withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreement, please don’t do it. We know you’ve got our best interests at heart, but you’ve done enough. Let us explain.
We sell things—steaks, trucks, drain pipes, wigs, designer clothes. You know, stuff people can’t live without. It’s a whole different world from selling real estate. You get by with a Phase I every once in a while, but we have regulation on everything we do. And it’s been that way for a long time.
The difficulty is that we have discovered two simple truths. First, people (and by that we mean our customers, your voters) actually want environmental regulation. Even now, after all of your great efforts to explain why climate change was invented by the Chinese and late night talk show hosts, Pew Research says that 74% of the people (our customers, your voters) believe that the country should do whatever it takes to protect the environment. We know, that’s made up of 52% Republicans and 90% Democrats, but we did our own research and discovered that we sell coffee and cola and cars to Republicans andDemocrats. We’re as shocked as you, but there it is.
Second, and this is really important: Quit changing the rules! We were just getting used to the regulations. We have already taken steps to address future goals, like those in the Paris Agreement. For example, many of us have converted our facilities from coal to gas. We’re not going back.
Don’t get us wrong. We’ll vote for you and we wish you nothing but the best. But Here’s the Thing (sorry, couldn’t resist): we’re going to outlive your time – by a lot. In a few years, you’ll be gone from office. Sooner or later the Democrats are going to be back in power. Sure, they all have really small hands, but what do you think they’re going to do with them? You guessed it – they’re going to change your rules and go back to where we are now. We’ve seen it over and over. And they are going to make up for lost time with 74% of the people (our customers, your voters) saying it’s a great idea.
What we’re trying to say is THIS WHIPSAW REGULATION IS KILLING US!
Only you can make it stop and leaving us in the Paris Agreement would be a great place to start.
We can’t tell you how appreciative we are of your attempts to reconsider some of the regulations for a few years. Really, thank you. But we need to make money and it’s a lot harder to do when we have to keep changing all our procedures and equipment that 74% of the people (you know) said they wanted in the first place.
So, if you could see your way to just switching your focus to getting that really important wall built and put these environmental changes on the back burner, that would be huge . . . believe me.
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