Trump may be an impediment to climate action from the federal government but he cannot stop the growth of sustainability in the US. Market forces have made sustainability a mainstream phenomenon. Paradoxically the Trump administration’s rejection of responsible climate policies may have increased climate action and activism from the business community.
The acknowledgement of the veracity of climate change is widespread. In addition to the scientific consensus and corporate leadership all branches of the US military and most economists agree that climate change is a significant threat.
Trump’s failures and his opposition to sustainability make it clear that despite his claims to greatness he is not much of a businessman. At best he has built a brand, however, his brand is both unethical and corrupt. He has repeatedly and consistently demonstrated his disregard for facts. His first hundred days were a climate and environmental nightmare and his second hundred days were worse. Many corporations were quick to reject Trump’s climate ignorance and they made business decisions to distance themselves from the Trump family.
A large number of scientists have also challenged Trump’s rejection of climate action. The proverbial shit hit the fan when Trump announced that he was pulling the US out of the Paris Accord. Both businesses and governments condemned Trump’s decision.
In protest over Trump’s decision, Elon Musk quit his role as an advisor on the president’s Strategic Policy Forum explaining that he thinks Trump’s move is bad for business. Musk is not the only one who has left the president behind. The world including the G19 decided to ignore Trump and push on with climate action.
California Governor Gerry Brown has assumed a leadership position in the wake of the void left by Trump’s climate abdication. Brown has ridiculed Republicans for their stance on global warming. As an extension of his climate action Brown is also reaping dramatic economic benefits for his state. In the process he is demonstrating that he is the preeminent dealmaker in the US.
The Trump administration’s hostility towards the climate and the environment has not slowed sustainability one bit. If anything the rate of adoption has has accelerated dramatically in recent months. Businesses are acting on climate change and advocating for sustainability.
As Trump rolled out his policy agenda business leaders responded. Huge numbers of companies are engaged in efforts to be more sustainable and some are working towards the goal of getting all of their power from renewable sources. In the face of the Trump’s administration’s disdain for science, almost 300 companies have committed to science-based climate action.
The logic of sustainability is compelling and a growing businesses case is building for the benefits of science-based climate action. Sustainability is proving to be a boon and not a liability. Companies are showing leadership on a host of climate and environmental issues including the important issue of water stewardship.
However, we cannot afford to be Pollyanna about the Trump presidency. These are undeniably dark times. Despite very positive signs we need to appreciate that sustainability is not impervious to Trump. This administration’s ignorance has serious implications. If nothing else, the volatility augured by Trump represents a serious risk factor and this gives the business community reason to be concerned.
Sustainability was a global megatrend long before Trump became president and it will continue to grow long after he is removed from office. However, businesses have to make an existential choice, they must decide whether they side with the future or with a doomed president.