As I write this blog, it’s hot outside. I mean really hot. At 97 degrees today here in the North Carolina Piedmont – with a heat index of 100 degrees – it’s thirteen degrees above the average high for June.
Summers have been getting hotter here, as they have in most parts of the world, since I moved to the South from my native Michigan fifteen years ago. And the weather has gotten weirder. Way weirder. Too much rain at times, not enough at others. Hot when it should be cold, cold when it should be hot. Bigger storms. You get the picture… you’re experiencing it too.
Yet, somehow, I’m hopeful.
Despite years of political rancor and inaction, the wheels are once again starting to turn. Two weeks ago, the Obama Administration unveiled its plan to reduce carbon pollution from power plants using its authority under the Clean Air Act – an action supported not only the usual choir of green groups, but four former Republican heads of EPA and 87% of the American public. This is welcome news.
And while not enough to solve the climate crisis on its own, adds to other bright spots across the globe. Namely, China’s five pilot regional carbon markets that are up and running, aiming to help reach the nation’s ambitious targets to reduce emissions 40-45% by 2020, and Brazil’s progress in cutting deforestation rates by 70% – and become the world’s leader on actions to curb global warming – since 2006.
And there was more positive news today as well from the private sector. This week in Paris, CEOs from The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) – a consortium of 400 of the world’s largest retailers, brands, and other companies involved in the production and sale of products we use (and eat) everyday – meet at the 58th Global Summit. This morning, these leaders called on governments around the world to agree on a legally binding climate deal. This call builds on existing commitments that many CGF companies have made to end global deforestation and phase out the use of climate-harming hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) in refrigeration.
While there is a lot work to be done to achieve these commitments and specific plans to do so have not been thoroughly fleshed out, these calls signal recognition by global companies that the climate crisis is real, costly, and can be solved if everyone pulls their weight. But, this can only be done if governments do their jobs too. We’ll be hearing more about how companies plan to meet their targets and further calls to action as we near the United Nations Climate Summit in September.
Such leadership from the business community is crucial if we are to see comprehensive actions from individual governments and I’m hopeful these voices will be loud enough to drown out those of their peers who decry any meaningful action.
For now, I’ll bear this heat, think of Paris, and dream of milder days to come.