After the US announced it would pull out of the Paris Climate Accord it left people around the world wondering what happens now? While there are concerns that this move will set the United States (and the world) back in regard to environmental initiatives, this could actually be a strong motivator for sustainability.
In fact, it seems that the news of withdrawal from the accord is actually inspiring green efforts. A study that examined business reactions following President Trump’s announcement conducted by Urjanet found that 73% of companies expect their commitment to sustainability to be the same while 21% plan to increase their involvement. Only 7.7% said they intended to decrease their commitment.
Paul Marushka, President and Chief Executive Officer for Sphera, wrote for Environmental Leader that 75% of millennials believe sustainability is a big deal. And with millennials being the largest target audience by far for companies, most businesses are unlikely to do an about face when it comes to their sustainable efforts.
Earlier this year Andrew Winston addressed how US Business Leaders Want to Stay in the Paris Climate Accord for the Harvard Business Review. After the announcement was made, CEOs of 30 companies came together to write an open letter expressing their support for remaining a member of the agreement. These businesses included 3M, Coca-Cola, Goldman Sachs, Johnson & Johnson, Pacific Gas & Electric and many others — businesses that represent heavy industry, banks, and communications. These businesses have $17 trillion in assets — not exactly small tree-hugging companies.
The process to withdraw is not quick and will not be complete until November 4, 2020 — the day after the next presidential election. While a future administration can chose to rejoin the accord, there is good news even now. It seems that the current administrations efforts to curtail green efforts is not having the desired effect. New York Times reporter Brad Plumer noted that certain states like California and New York are planning to pursue efforts to address climate change directly and, like Winston, Plumer believes that the private sector has no big plans to change their course toward cleaner energy.
This fall a number of big apparel companies including Gap, Nike and Levi Strauss announced that they are committed to setting science-based greenhouse gas reduction targets. Cassandra Sweet at GreenBiz Group reported earlier this month that these businesses are joining with roughly 300 companies around the world who have pledged to set these targets in order to achieve a measurable reduction in global temperatures. Despite the shift in political feelings toward climate issues, companies remain increasingly under pressure from investors and customers to demonstrate they are being environmentally responsible.
We can take heart that green efforts and sustainable practices can not only continue, but thrive, despite the lack of encouragement from this administration. Individuals and companies around the world can and will continue to make a difference to help our environment. Get started with us on developing your organization’s sustainability strategy today.