Biz Leaders on UN Climate Change Agreement

As world leaders gather to sign the United Nations climate change agreement at the United Nations today, nearly 50 business leaders from across the country discussed policies to curb climate change.

Small business owners, entrepreneurs, investors, and executives have said that businesses are already feeling the effects of climate change. Severe weather affects commodity prices, disrupts supply and delivery chains, and keeps potential customers at home.

Some business leaders have remarked that the United Nations climate change agreement sends a powerful market signal to invest in clean energy technologies. Several business leaders have recommended establishing a clean energy standard, such as producing more than 50 percent of America’s energy from clean sources by the year 2030.

At Business Forward briefings, business leaders have expressed interest in working with policymakers at the federal, state, and local levels to meet the commitments outlined in the landmark agreement.

Below is a sample of quotes from business leader participants:

Arkansas

“Climate change is a subject that can’t continue to go ignored. Our energy dependence must change. Solar power and wind turbines must be expanded to replace the aging power grids around the world,” said Dr. Cornelius White, CEO of C.W. Global Industries LLC in Ashdown, Ark.

California

“I have a small business is Sonoma County – a bed and breakfast. My guests come from around the world to see this beautiful area in which we live. They come to see the lush forests and the Redwoods, the pristine California Coast and the healthy, productive wineries in Sonoma County. Climate change threatens all of these aspects of our county. The California drought has killed many plants in our forest, and even though we have had rain this winter, some of them may never recover. Rising temperatures promotes the Bark Beetle which kills all the pine trees not only in Sonoma County, but all over California, as well as outside the state, and even up into Canada,” said Hilary Avalon, Owner of Avalon Bed & Breakfast in Sebastopol, Calif. In order to preserve our wonderful resources here in Sonoma County and everywhere for everyone, it is important for world leaders to recognize the issue as a serious one and take steps to halt the human contribution to climate change.

“Accelerating our investment in clean energy is essential to lead our economy into a safer and more energy secure future. Clean energy standards are stimulating growth in this sector. Investment creates new jobs and opportunities in the innovation economy as utilities and tech companies create solutions together,” said Brigette Hunley, President of BHC in Fairfield, Calif.

“Climate change is a real threat to our economy. At the same time it creates a huge opportunity to create thousands of jobs and wealth for the countries leading the development of technologies and integrated systems to solve the problem, involving industries like energy, transportation, telecommunications and water. We’re proud about investing heavily in this,” said Eduardo MuÌoz, CEO of Bravo Motor Company LLC, in Merced, Calif.

“California has been a world leader in decarbonization. Over the last 15 years, the state has seen carbon emissions plummet, while the economy and population have flourished. Clean energy investments not only reduce energy costs, but they create jobs, spur innovation and investment, and improve the health of our communities,” said Duane Muller, President of The Playa Group LLC in Los Angeles.

“We must take the long view regarding climate change, otherwise we are stealing from generations to come. Transitioning to clean, safe, renewable energy now is better than waiting until the last moment when it will cause more disruption.We must keep fossil fuels in the ground to keep the global temperature from rising more than 1.5 degrees; anything else will devastate global economies. The Solutions Project has the plan to get the US off of fossil fuels by 2050, and most of the fossil fuel related jobs can be transitioned to the renewable energy sector. What are we waiting for?” said Pennie Opal, Owner of Gathering Tribes in Albany, Calif.

“Business leaders must evolve their thinking toward a total commitment to a green, environmentally friendly operations model. Corporate development of a strong environmental ethic dedicated to sustainable methodologies while taking full responsibility for associated externalities is crucial,” said Mark V. Quigley, President of Environmental Builders Inc. in Vacaville, Calif.

“We need to avoid further accelerating the climate change we are already causing. Economically speaking, hydroelectric power, wind power, and nuclear power are the most cost effective large-scale electricity sources we have that do not emit CO2; though solar power is catching up in cost.  We should not forget that nuclear fission is still the most scalable CO2-free electricity source we have for very large scale impact, and it will remain so at least until better energy storage systems are invented to stabilize renewable electricity sources,” said Ken Ricci, Research Scientist at ParaPower LLC in Redwood City, Calif.

“I have been in Silicon Valley for 50 years. We have experienced hotter summers and much colder winters over the past five to seven years. So, being proactive to climate change is good business,” said Tony Siress, President and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce | Mountain View in Mountain View, Calif.

“As a business owner, when I ship orders out to customers and these super storms slow these orders, my customers risk missing giving Christmas gifts to their families. Ending global warming is paramount to every aspect of life on this planet, including business,” said Nathan Strack, Owner of Hellinspace.com in Los Angeles.

“We in California are already paying a price due to climate change. Some small businesses have completely shut down last year due to drought. This is just the tip of the iceberg. It is time to do something bold about the climate soonest possible,” said Daveed Waithaka, CEO and President of California Exporting Group in Sacramento, Calif.

“For us, climate change creates new opportunities for our business because it’s a global issue and will need global solutions. For example new green technologies and international regulations all need to be translated to be effectively deployed and implemented globally,” said Carl Yao, Executive Vice President of CSOFT in San Francisco.

Colorado

“As an industry leader in changing the energy paradigm, Pos-En is excited to support the Paris Agreement. We believe cleaner energy is vital to our society’s future,” said Dan Gregory, CEO of Positive Energies in Fort Collins, Colo.

“The crisis of hunger, poverty and climate change are a single crisis and must be addressed through an integral ecology,” said Sean Murphy, Managing Partner at Miracle Ventures in Denver.

“Our natural world, the environment itself, is the fundamental infrastructure of the outdoor industry. Many outdoor brands, rooted in values of environmental responsibility, have led the fight against the negative effects of climate change. We are grateful that 155 countries, a record number, are signing the climate agreement reached in Paris last year. We applaud the Obama administration for their leadership and look forward to working with leaders in the outdoor industry and beyond to see these goals achieved,” said Amy Roberts, Executive Director of the Outdoor Industry Association in Boulder, Colo.

District of Columbia

“The Paris Agreement is a meaningful signal to world markets that a low carbon economy is inevitable and investing in clean energy will play a major role in the fight against global climate change. CleanCapital is proud to stand with other major U.S. companies in support of this agreement,” said Jon Powers, Chairman and Co-Founder of CleanCapital in Washington.

“Climate change is real. It is scientifically documented. And it is profoundly important that every business executive take it into account in their long-term business strategy. Not to do so is a failure of their responsibility to their customers and their shareholders,” said James Moran, Senior Legislative Advisor at McDermott Will & Emery in Washington.

Delaware

“One of our product applications is to study and monitor the global warming including carbon emissions. GS-Tek is proud of offering our GC columns and analyzers to help reduction of carbon emissions,” said Zack Ji, President of GS-Tek in Newark, Del.

Florida

“As a business owner, I believe that it is undeniable that climate change is happening and it is evident that we have no more time to waste. Our community must work collectively to increase resilient capacity, protect our investments from sea level rise and reduce carbon emissions,” said Irela Bague, President of Bague Group in Miami and Chair of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce’s Sustainability Committee.

“Over the past decade, much has been done by business leaders to reduce the impact of byproducts that come from manufacturing of goods and delivery of services. This is to be applauded, yet there is still more to be done.
As a community of businesses rallied together, we can delay and even reverse drastic changes to the environment,” said Ivan Luejez, CEO of Spinex Medical Inc. in Miami.

“Aquaculture and agricultural farming is being affected more and more every day by changing weather patterns. So far, our local fruit trees have tried to blossom the times this spring and the rain and drought conditions are becoming more severe. The changing sea level is damaging fish estuaries in places like our wonderful Florida Everglades, Florida Bays, and coral reefs. It will also continue to affect prime farming areas around the globe. When is enough enough?” said Theresa Spurling-Wood, Owner of Freshwater Farms LLC in Gainesville, Fla.

Hawaii

“For a small island community, the effects of climate change are real. As the threats of hurricanes and rising sea levels increase, so too will the ability of people to conduct commerce on the island,” said Mark Perriello, President and CEO of Kauai Chamber of Commerce in Lihue, Hawaii.

Indiana

“As a global leader representing small-and-medium-sized enterprises with clean energy projects, the effects of climate change impacts innovation, sustainable job growth, and bottom-line performance for increasing prosperity,” said Dr. Toby Malichi, Founder & Global Chief Executive of Malichi Group Worldwide in Indianapolis, Ind.

Maryland

“In the aerospace industry, we rely on just-in-time manufacturing supply chains that are complex and worldwide. Severe weather events have severely disrupted this supply chain in the past, so we need better policies to curb climate change to help prevent costly manufacturing delays,” said Carl Livesay, VP Operations at Land Sea Air Manufacturing in Westminster, Md.

Massachusetts

“This move towards a reduction in greenhouse gasses and the deployment of renewable energy and sustainability measures is a boon for American businesses. Through lower energy costs and the creation of millions of jobs that cannot be exported overseas, this may be the greatest economic expansion opportunity of our lifetime,” said Joshua May, CEO of ReVenture in West Roxbury, Mass.

Michigan

“As a small business owner I think it time to change the way we see the world today because it is telling us what we need to do; I think we should listen. The way we listen is to be smarter with our energy in ways to make it more effective. With smarter energy we can reduce pollution from power plants that produce dangerous carbons, which ultimately causes climate change. I think investing in technologies will contribute to savings and jobs, so it is a win in my book. Let’s move to a cleaner energy worldwide,” said Susan Jones, Founder and Owner of Impact Detroit Magazine in Detroit.

“Centric Design Studio Architects incorporates sustainable design solutions into each of our architectural projects with the goal of reducing energy emissions to offset the effects of climate change. Where some view emissions
reduction strategies as a cost barrier, we educate clients on the long-term economic and health benefits for the client’s project and the community,” said Saundra Little, Architect + Firm Principal of Centric Design Studio in Detroit.

Missouri

“Diva Maker has been active in our efforts to lessen our effect on the climate by being one of the first companies to offer eco-friendly hair extensions and care products. We believe in offering products that will not fill our landfills, but be reusable for two years or more, to leave a green foot print,” said Louise Brooks, CEO of Diva Maker LLC in Kansas City, Mo.

“Clean energy standards will help reduce the cost of photovoltaic for my business. Greater scale will bring prices down. The biggest area in which our economy can expand is in clean energy and climate mitigation strategies. My business will prosper when more leaders understand this,” said Hilary Noonan principal and owner of Syntax Land Design, LLC, a design and maintenance firm in Kansas City, Mo.

North Carolina

“Climate change will affect the health of all populations in the world. Nutrition education, healthcare, food safety regulations to protect against food borne illness, and safe drinking water will all play important roles during the coming years. Action is required to protect humanity and promote stewardship of planet earth,” said Laura Dawson, Chief Executive Officer of Food Physics & Body Dynamics LLC in Castle Hayne, N.C.

New Mexico

“We need to have rapid and very strong public and private action on climate change. Increasingly it is destroying our economies and increasing chaos that further hurts most business and all economies. Strong immediate green action will create new jobs and business opportunities as well as preserving our economies,” said Stephen Sachs, Participation Processes Coordinator, in Albuquerque, N.M.

“We have one planet to preserve. This is our greatest priority. No economy exists when a planet is dying, as this effects everything. Addressing climate change should be our global mission.  Nothing else really matters. We must invest in clean energy, preservation and be responsible for the earth for future generations. We cannot afford to wait,” said Susan Westbrook, President of Susan Westbrook Interiors Inc., in Albuquerque, N.M.

New York

“As government and corporate giants gathered in Paris for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, there was an important voice that is being muted: that of small businesses. Small businesses in the United States alone contribute to approximately $60 billion in annual energy costs and nearly half a billion metric tons of annual carbon emissions. Businesses must be serious about how to mitigate future climate disaster by doing what they’ve always done, strategic planning, risk assessment, investing in infrastructure, diversified supply chain, using the best available information about potential risk. Consequently, small businesses have the ability to have a tremendous cultural impact by influencing how their employees think about climate-related issues,” said Cynthia DiBartolo, CEO of Tigress Financial Partners in New York and Chairperson of the Greater NY Chamber of Commerce.

“Pirelli believes the business community has the responsibility to create a better future, and as part of this we support a price on carbon. A carbon price would shift the burden of emissions back to those who caused them, but would also stimulate clean tech innovation and help companies make sustainable, long-term plans. For decades, the argument that curbing emissions hurts economic growth was used to justify inaction. Today, renewable energy technologies are sufficiently widespread and affordable to challenge that,” said Pierluigi Dinelli, CEO of Pirelli Tire North America in New York.

“Climate change is a fact.  The correlation between climate change and the increase in our carbon footprint is self-evident, and clearly beyond coincidence. We must, therefore, design the totality of the built environment to diminish that footprint to a net zero sum,” said Raymond Irrera, President of Raymond Irrera + Associates Architects, P.C. in New York.

“Geothermal power solutions from companies like Thermal Energy Partners can reduce emissions and the effects of global warming, without increasing costs for the consumers. There is no longer an excuse for companies or governments to continue to burn fossil fuels for power,” said Daniel Pfeffer, President of Thermal Energy Partners, LLC, in Larchmont, N.Y.

Ohio

“People, businesses, nation states and the entire world will suffer if we do not take timely action to prevent further pollution of our planet and let things drift as has been for the past few decades,” said Chandrasekaran Pillai, CFO of Quantum Polymer in Cleveland.

Pennsylvania

“The Federation of Philippine American Chambers of Commerce is proud to support the historic Paris Climate agreement. Severe weather and climate change have a huge impact on businesses in Southeast Asian countries like the Philippines, which greatly relies on agriculture, commodity-based businesses and tourism as a big part of its economy,” said Brad Baldia, FPAC VP of Government Affairs in Philadelphia.

“We work in the natural gas industry and the lower carbon footprint is huge, however, we cannot reduce emissions in one day, one year, or one decade. We need to work together as a team and fix this problem without affecting the economy over a short time frame,” Charles King, Pittsburgh PA at SSM Industries  in Bethel Park, Pa.

“My company always is looking for new ways to collaborate with providers that use clean energy,” said Leo Martinez, a software developer at Smartz Studios LLC in Reading, Pa. “For example, our hosting provider is using only green energy to provide power to the web servers. We know this is a step-by-step process and we need to learn how change every part of our business. We expect in the near future we can improve our process, but we need help with regulations and more education on how we can improve it.”

“Business concerns about climate change have been steadily building—from operational efficiency and cost concerns, to supply chain stability, to risk mitigation, and now fully into access to capital. Volatility from climate change now exists at all of these levels and has the potential to build to unpredictable levels. Clean energy standards and climate policies mitigate this growing volatility and reduce the downsides at all of these aspects of business. Value gets unlocked while our future’s prospects get brighter,” said Matthew Mehalik, Sustainable Pittsburgh Program Director.

“Climate change impacts our European travel business dramatically. Lower water levels in the Danube have grounded river cruises this past fall. Interest in summer travel to Europe is waning among our clients, who are concerned about the rising summer temperatures,” said Andrea Szyper, Communications Director at Untours in Media, Pa.

Texas

“The El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce firmly believes that by accelerating clean energy standards, it would help businesses recover faster from severe weather catastrophes and help our economy,” said Cindy Ramos Davidson, CEO of the El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in El Paso, Texas.

“More and more small businesses are experiencing sudden and devastating impacts to their businesses and many never recover from climate change influences or extreme weather events. Small business should play a pivotal role furthering our nation’s resilience and solutions to the effects of climate change. Small business leaders must collaborate to strategically address climate change resiliency by analyzing risks, implementing business continuity plans, increase awareness of climate change, develop financial products and programs that directly mitigate climate change and natural disasters,” said Al Salgado, Executive Director of the UTSA Small Business Development Center Network in San Antonio, Texas.

Virginia

“While there may be a cost businesses must bear to address climate change, the cost of not addressing it is higher still,” said Rebecca Rubin, President and CEO of the Marstel-Day Environmental Consulting, LLC, in Fredericksburg, Va.

Washington

We have noticed that the commitment to all-electric and hybrid public transit vehicles in major metro cities has had a huge impact on quality of life, air pollution, etc. I watched things change in NYC, and Toronto, and here in Seattle. Not only do the cities and their residents benefit from these kinds of regulations, but also surrounding communities, and the planet as a whole, with fewer emissions and less heat being produced,” said Steve Haak, Partner, VP of Strategy & UX at Solid State Pros LLC in Seattle.

“Accelerating America’s investment in clean energy will stimulate our economy by encouraging job growth while living in symbiosis with the planets and its other species. If we could lead the way with the steam engine, the automobile, and numerous other  vital technologies, why can’t we lead the way investing and developing cleaner energy technologies and strategies for our future generation’s sake?” said Kelley White, Owner of Gigi’s Magic Garden in Spokane, Wash.

Wisconsin

“Wisconsin’s ongoing suit against the Obama administration over pending regulations to reduce carbon dioxide emissions is another missed opportunity to achieve a high-end, cleaner energy economy; one that attracts clean energy jobs and investment and furthers our state’s long tradition of environmental stewardship,” said John Imes, Co-founder and Owner of Arbor House, Ltd., in Madison, Wis.