Sustainability is a megatrend that will outlast the current political
dystopia. The Trump administration’s opposition to sustainability is on the wrong side of history and forward looking business leaders know it. Trump’s agenda is being countered by businesses and investors.
As quoted in a New York Times article, Danielle Fugere said, “In many cases, I think businesses disagree with the
administration.” Fugere is president of As You Sow, a
nonprofit group that uses shareholder resolutions to advocate for
greater corporate environmental and social responsibility. No matter what Trump does, business will not be deterred.
Intel spokeswoman, Katie Lewallen, said “Regardless of regulatory changes, we intend to continue our commitment to environmental stewardship, including working to fulfill the climate change pledge we made in 2015.”
Trump is a circus sideshow and no one should be guided by his business strategy. At best Trump can be described as a brand builder. Business leaders cannot afford to be myopic, they must look beyond spurious political cycles to the trends that will endure.
Sustainability is a megatrend
Sustainability has reached a tipping point and it is now an irreversible megatrend. Although it is not
impervious to Trump, sustainability is sure to outlast his presidency. Going forward, sustainability has been identified as a multi-trillion dollar opportunity and the world’s most powerful driver of global economic growth.
There are a number of compelling reasons why corporations are engaging sustainability in unprecedented numbers. In addition to mitigating against risk, sustainability augurs tremendous economic benefits.
The adoption of responsible business practices is also consistent with a growing trend in the investment community. An ever increasing number of shareholders are calling for risk assessment and sustainability planning. Corporations are increasingly responsive to these concerns.
Opposition to sustainability is irrational
The Trump administration is hostile to environmental protections and climate action. However, Trump’s term is shaping up to be the least successful presidency in American history. Trump’s government has demonstrated an unprecedented degree of ignorance. Taking cues from this administration may prove to be a colossal mistake.
While Trump has tried to portray environmental regulations as an impediment to economic growth, he fails to acknowledge the costs of environmental degradation and climate change. He also ignores
the plethora of data proving that sustainability is already producing tremendous economic results.
A cost benefit analysis reveals that when it comes to climate change, inaction is far more expensive than action. We simply cannot afford to deny the costs of climate change and the benefits of action. The world’s best and brightest have all resoundingly condemned Trump’s policy positions. As explained by World Resources Institute’s Kevin Moss, “it’s in their business interest to take action on climate.”
After the election at the end of last year, heads of state, climate scientists and hundreds of business
leaders including Intel, Johnson & Johnson and Campbell Soup warned Trump not to kill the Paris Climate Agreement (even Exxon has told trump not to abandon the accord). Early in December more than 800 Earth Scientists and Energy experts urged Trump to act on climate change. Predictably, Trump ignored them and unleashed an all out assault on environmental protections and climate action.
Trump’s opposition to sustainability makes business leadership matter now more than ever.
Independent of the reckless incompetence of Trump and his administration, consumers continue to be interested in responsible corporate behavior.
All around the world, businesses are acting to combat climate change. They are acting because they see the writing on the wall and they have done the math. Chief executives want Trump to harmonize his policies with economic reality. Four such individuals are well known Trump advisors: General Electric’s Jeffrey R. Immelt, Tesla’s Elon Musk, BlackRock’s Laurence D. Fink and Campbell’s Denise Morrison.
In the New York Times article, Immelt was quoted as saying, “We believe climate change is real and the science is well accepted” and Fink has pledged to press companies to address the effects of climate change on their businesses.
Immelt, Musk, Fink and Morrison are members of the White House manufacturing advisory council. Other CEOs are leading by example and reducing their greenhouse gas emissions. This includes Doug McMillon of Walmart and Indra Nooyi of PepsiCo.
Walmart’s Gardner said its environmental commitments were “embedded in our business” and PepsiCo spokesman, Jay Cooney, said the company believes that, “combating climate change is critical to the future of our company, customers, consumers and our world.”
A group of technology companies, including Apple, Amazon, Google and Microsoft, urged Mr. Trump not to abandon policies that reduce GHGs. Businesses are also leading by example and adopting science-based emissions reduction targets.
Other companies are advocating for renewable energy. The RE100 initiative now has 89 members who have pledged to go 100 percent renewable. American companies that have pledged to move towards renewables include GM and Dell. “Walmart, Intel, General Motors and Lockheed Martin — all of which have
senior executives on Mr. Trump’s business councils — have signed on to
the principles of the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance.”
There are still bad guys
Despite the strong showing from corporate America in defense of climate regulations, there are some companies who have advocated for a lessening of regulatory oversight. General Motors and Ford advocated for the removal of federal regulations on vehicle pollution. JPMorgan Chase, Walmart, Boeing, IBM, Dow Chemical and Lockheed Martin asked Trump to kill the Clean Power Plan and 15 other regulations.
Businesses and Governments React to Trump’s Exit from the Paris Climate Deal
Trump Represents a Serious Risk Factor for Corporate America
Corporate America Rejects Trump’s Climate Ignorance
Sustainability is an Economic Boon not a Liability
Which Side is Your Business On?
Business Benefits from Science-Based Climate Action