Last week I had the honor to visit the White House with a meeting of business leaders to learn more about federal administration activities regarding combating climate change effects. We heard from various representatives not only about ongoing initiatives, but also the Paris international climate change agreement that was under negotiation.
The White House has worked to engage business leaders from across the U.S. to hear their concerns and solicit feedback on a wide range of policy issues, including climate change. I was impressed to learn that 1,500 business leaders interacted with administration staff at forums throughout the year similar to the one I attended.
During a quick recap of economic and other benchmarks, a White House spokesperson noted that clean energy production and fuel economy on cars have both doubled since President Obama took office. However, he also remarked that “the President reminds us that big things happen in the fourth quarter” – meaning that he has big goals and work to address during his remaining time in office.
In a previous blog, I described the Clean Power Plan to work toward a state-by-state reduction in emissions from power plants. States are working to develop individual plans for meeting these goals, including not only directly addressing emissions but also earning credits through using renewables (such as wind and solar) and improving energy efficiency. This work will hopefully have an impact on air quality along with reducing our carbon contribution to the atmosphere.
While some may question the relevance of combating climate change effects to businesses, an expert shared information about how already in recent years the increase in number of storms and severity have caused power grid outages that have negatively impacted commerce. Although businesses may be able to take preparation steps or back-up plans (such as purchasing a generator), they cannot cope with all vendors or other operations that may be affected by the changes we’re experiencing in weather patterns and climate changes.
The government is working to address not only the reliability of the power grid, but also its resiliency under storms or changes in climate. However, more investment is needed in the network to address these concerns, along with the world’s growing energy needs.
The bottom line is that it is important for businesses to be actively involved in these conversations at both the state and national level, not only to provide their perspective but also to contribute insights that will lead to solving these challenges. Businesses have a huge stake in climate change effects, whether they realize it or not.