Monday, February 20, 2017

Sustainability is not Impervious to Trump

Trump will not be able to stop sustainability or arrest the production of renewable energy, he may not even kill the Paris Climate agreement. There are clear market incentives that will continue to drive the green economy forward.  Optimism abounded at this year's World Economic Forum in Davos.  However, at some point we will have to face the bitter truth that market forces alone are not enough. 

Nor should we ignore just how far we have come. Sustainability is now a market dictate and a mainstream phenomenon. There are powerful drivers that make sustainability an unstoppable force. The business case has been made and a plethora of studies have demonstrated the ROI on sustainability.

Half of the companies on the Fortune 500 have already begun investing in science-based emissions reduction. Many of these corporations have plans to go entirely carbon neutral. Those CEOs who are not already leading the charge are coming to terms with the risks associated with climate change. Perhaps more than anything they cannot resist the multi-trillion dollar opportunity.

Just after the election 745 companies and big investors that signed a letter urging Trump to support the accord. Trump is under pressure from American business leaders, not the least of which is Elon Musk, who also happens to be a Trump advisor.

Members of Trump's own cabinet may argue that there is no upside to trashing the Paris Agreement. Some Republican stalwarts have put forward a national emissions reduction plan. A group of Republican heavyweights including former cabinet Secretaries James Baker, George Shultz and Hank Paulson went to the White House to present a carbon tax plan.

However, Trump is Trump. He has already started his war against the EPA, and some members of the GOP are chomping at the bit to dismantle the agency altogether.

Even if Trump does not fulfill his promise to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, he can be expected to slow walk the deal. At the very least the world has lost a critical leader that will make ramping up global emissions reduction ambitions even more difficult. We need to increase ambitions to avoid careening precariously towards tipping points from which we may not be able to recover.

There are a number of good reasons why Republicans should take climate action seriously. Despite all of these factors Trump and the GOP will likely ignore the agreement and kill emissions regulations.  This is a very dark time in the history of the world. Even with a consorted international effort we may not be able to derail Trump's climate dystopia.

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