Business and climate change: How companies are taking the lead on sustainability

January 13, 2017

Corporate leadership will help determine how climate change will affect businessWith each new administration in Washington comes new players and new policies. A November 2016 article in TIME suggested that the new federal leadership appeared to be poised to rescind or remove many of the nation’s environmental commitments, leaving the question of how to reduce greenhouse gases up in the air. Indeed, the administration announced in January 2017 that the United States would be withdrawing from the Paris climate accord, the historic agreement made between 196 nations to acknowledge global climate change and take systematic steps to combat it. 

The TIME article went on to say that new environmental leadership will need to come from a different source—private businesses. Addressing climate change at the business level will be increasingly necessary when leadership at the federal level falters.

From the article:

[I]t’s unlikely any messaging—from military, financial and medical experts—about the real security, economic or health risks associated with global warming and climate change will change [federal leaderships] mind.

According to the article, businesses are stepping up to the plate. Over 360 companies signed a statement in November 2016 urging elected U.S. leaders to address climate change, while also pledging to become carbon-neutral companies in just 35 years. The triple bottom line of sustainable development for these businesses is proving to be socially, environmentally and financially profitable.

Also from the article:

Companies realize it’s good for business—as the returns on investment are high with renewables, efficiencies and conservation—and stock performance has never been better.

Integrating climate change and business strategy is not the complete answer to meeting carbon emission reduction goals, but it’s a significant step. And, as the article observed, leading companies in alternative energy may be America’s best hope in the next four years for reducing greenhouse gases.


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