By Andrew Winston
The climate crisis is upon us, and there’s no time to wait for voluntary corporate action to tackle the challenge. We need the collective will that government provides. Companies have long allowed a chasm to open up between their own statements and actions on climate, and what their government relations and lobbying teams are doing in the halls of power. I want to offer some thoughts on context, and where the policy discussion could, or should, go.
First, climate change is real and affecting businesses today.
Second, with increasing transparency, it’s much harder to hide the disconnect between what companies are saying they’re doing and what they’re actually advocating for behind the scenes.
Third, stakeholders—customers, employees and communities—are demanding more action and are less tolerant of inconsistencies on this issue.
Here are some suggestions for what science-based climate policies could look like:
- A price on carbon, rising aggressively over time.
- Phaseouts of internal combustion engines in the next 10 to 20 years.
- Aggressive standards for building energy efficiency to mandate net-zero buildings and/or renewable energy use on rooftops.
- Investments in smarter design and development of cities.
- Significant investments in clean infrastructure, such as a high-capacity electric grid.
- Incentives for “circular economy” processes and innovation.
- Tariffs on goods from countries with lower carbon standards.
- Adaptation plans and investments for those being physically displaced by sea level rise.
- Retraining and relocation money for workers in key sectors who will be displaced by the transition to the clean economy.
As important as policy is, it’s not everything. I’d love to see companies also think about their communication and efforts with other key stakeholders beyond government.
Andrew Winston advises companies on how they can navigate and profit from environmental and social challenges.