Action on Climate Continues – Local, Vocal, and Not Backing Down
December 4, 2016
As the incoming Trump administration promises a retreat on the issue of global warming, executives of major corporations gathered in Fort Lauderdale this week to discuss how businesses could reduce emissions of heat-trapping gases.
The Companies vs. Climate Change conference at the Hyatt Regency Pier 66 attracted representatives from Citigroup, Ingersoll Rand, Nasdaq, Avery Dennison, AmerisourceBergen, Bacardi, Alaska Airlines, United Airlines, JM Family Enterprises, Hertz, Office Depot, Subway, Amtrak, Walgreens and many other companies.
There were no representatives of oil companies or automobile manufacturers among the 200 or so participants, but the conference’s organizer said the turnout from major corporations showed that large segments of the business community were serious about dealing with climate change.
“In the wake of the election, it’s pretty clear that that climate solutions must – underline three times – must, be business driven,” said Jason Youner, chief executive officer of Companies vs. Climate Change, which organized the three-day conference that ended Friday. “The government’s not going to do it. The private sector has to do it. Corporations have to take the lead, and they really are. They’re doing a lot in this area. They know their customers want it. They’re making it happen, and that’s why we’re having a conference like this.”
Several corporate representatives said that reducing their environmental footprint has turned out to be good business.
“We are in touch with our key stakeholders – our employees, customers, our shareholders, and all of those constituents tell us that this is what they want to see,” said Joe Doolan, head of environmental affairs at TD Bank, founding sponsor of the event, which has 1,300 branches in the United States. “Quite frankly, it’s quite profitable.”
Leaders from 90 world “megacities” meeting in Mexico City this week are sending a message that they plan to act on climate change—whatever national leaders do.
The sixth C40 Mayors Summit is occurring one year after the landmark conference in Paris, at which nearly 200 countries agreed to take steps to limit warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius compared with preindustrial levels. But it is also taking place in the shadow of last month’s election of President-elect Donald Trump, who has promised to “cancel” U.S. participation in the agreement.
In a call with reporters ahead of the conference Monday, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg acknowledged that the world has “a lot of concern” about the track Trump is likely to take on warming.
“But mayors, as we know, have never waited for Washington to act here in the United States,” said Bloomberg, who is also the United Nations’ special envoy for cities and climate change. “They’ve never waited for an international treaty to take steps to protect their citizens and improve public health. And whatever happens, mayors will continue leading by example.”
Bloomberg and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, who is the incoming chairwoman of the group, released a report this week showing that the world’s large cities would need to peak emissions by 2020 and then nearly halve carbon emissions for every citizen in a decade to avoid the worst impacts of warming. This compares with a business-as-usual trajectory of a 35 percent increase in emissions over the next four years.
The so-called Deadline 2020 analysis proposes that city governments focus on placing key sectors in building, transportation and urban development on a low-carbon pathway. It estimated a price tag of $375 billion over the next four years for new climate-friendly infrastructure in C40’s 90 cities.