As this is the last Thanksgiving before we enter the dark days of a Trump presidency many are feeling hopeless. However, this is a good time to take stock of just how far we have come on climate and environmental action. So many dedicated people and organizations have fought hard to get where we are today. Before the Trump administration assumes power we should reflect on what has been accomplished, what we stand to lose and we must strive to defend.
Paris Climate Agreement
First and foremost there is the Paris Agreement. This historic agreement was signed by almost 200 countries and it has recently come into force. The deal commits the world to unprecedented emissions reduction. President Obama played a leadership role to broker the deal at COP21 last December and it formally came into force this fall.
Our energy mix is changing and getting a lot cleaner. The EPA’s Clean Power Plan has contributed to the prodigious growth of renewable energy in the US and around the world. Reports suggest this growth will continue. We have also seen signs that suggest renewables are growing faster and replacing fossil fuels. As reviewed in the following video, clean energy is sure to become an even bigger part of the energy mix going forward.
We are seeing tremendous growth in environmentally and socially responsible investing. Investors continue to be drawn to low carbon investment opportunities that combat climate change. There are powerful forces driving sustainable and responsible investing. In the following video industry expert Sara E. Murphy presents the history, drivers, and industry trends.
We have seen sustainability leadership from the business community which includes the decoupling of growth and emissions. There are a number of reasons why sustainability has gone mainstream not the least of which is a plethora of studies that show benefits to a firms ROI. In 2016 businesses are thriving with sustainability and risk dying without it. In following video Walmart, Kroger, Henkel, PepsiCo discuss the ways that they are creating market opportunities through sustainability leadership
Led by the Clean Power Plan, the Obama administration has enacted a raft of sustainability focused actions. There have also been a number of efficiency focused initiatives for federal agencies. However if Trump adheres to his campaign promises all of these will be undone. EPA director Gina McCarthy says she is proud of Obama’s climate and environmental legacy however all of these accomplishments are at risk from the Trump administration (click here for a comprehensive summary of Obama’s achievements).