On Wednesday the 30th, a group of environmentally conscious US businesses held the first conference of Companies Vs Climate Change in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The conference brought together businesses such as banks, airlines, energy, pharmaceutical and technology companies under the banner of resisting President-elect Donald Trump’s dismissal of climate change issues. Trump, who won the election in an upset victory on November 8th, has referred to climate change as a hoax perpetrated by China, and vowed to pull the US out of its commitment to last year’s landmark Paris agreement.
While the conference was planned before Trump’s November 8th victory, it took on an added sense of urgency and purpose, according to Chief Executive of solveclimatechange.com, Jason Youner.
“Complaining about the election and the incoming administration doesn’t help anybody. We’re not here to debate whether there is climate change. We’re here to try to save the world, because the government’s not going to,” said Youner.
At the conference, executives, activists, and experts spoke about the new role corporate America will need to play in fighting climate change under a Trump presidency.
“If they don’t then the people who are hellbent on rescinding regulations and just allowing the market to function without any guardrails are likely to undo all the progress that the United States has made over the past 70 years,” according to Richard Eidlin, who is vice-president of policy and campaigns for the lobbying group American Sustainable Business Council.
Eidlin continued, saying “Businesses that are in favor of addressing climate change, and maintaining environmental safeguards need to really express their views and express the business case for doing so. Not only is it good for them, and they’re generating profit and mitigating their risk, but what is just as important is stepping into the policy process.”
The conference hosted executives from companies such as TD Bank, Nasdaq, Citigroup, United Airlines, Ingersoll Rand, Alaska Airlines, and Bright Power. Joe Doolan, who is head of environmental affairs at TD Bank, discussed the success of green initiatives, such as a reduction in paper consumption since 2010.
“We set ourselves up as an environmental leader back in 2007 and became the first carbon-neutral bank in the US in 2010. We’ve installed solar canopies over our drive-through lanes, which has helped us offset our energy costs, and 90% of our waste is diverted from landfills. For us it’s about reduction, reduction, reduction,” said Doolan.
Jeffrey Perlman, chief executive of Bright Power, said:
“We have an incoming administration not willing to even admit that climate change is a thing [but] they won’t be able to dismantle a lot of the great energy policies in the states that are being more progressive. If we’re talking about how people interact and consume energy, from how they heat and cool their homes to how they do business in a more environmentally friendly way, the only way that happens is through business.”