Acts of leadership: change the channel

November 14, 2016

acts of leadership on climate change

Donald Trump does not believe in climate change.  Sadly, he won’t be the first or the last.  But, as a head of state in 2016, he is the last man standing.  At least for the time being.  And that is discouraging.

While it might be harder than he thinks to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, the confusion and uncertainty he will cause will certainly mean less gets done at a national level to reduce emissions.  And no doubt climate change deniers will be emboldened in other countries, just as the racists and misogynists have been in his own.

National governments are important in the fight against climate change.  However, they aren’t our only and last hope for acts of leadership.

We Mean Business

My twitter feed can be awash in negative news about climate change and its impact on people and the planet.  So, I make sure I also follow organizations that are making a difference – like We Mean Business.

We Mean Business has signed up over 600 of the world’s largest businesses and investors.  They are making real commitments – from adopting science-based emissions reduction targets, using 100% renewable power, to increasing energy productivity.  They are demonstrating results because it makes business sense.  Managing risk and pursuing opportunities is what successful businesses do well.

Where and how we use energy

Trump wants to restore the U.S. coal industry.

Promoting a polarized debate on energy supply is also not new.  Canada is also stuck in this debate despite our commitment to the Paris Agreement.

But fossil fuels, on one side, and renewable energy, on the other, is only half the conversation.  Where and how we use energy is the other half.

Communities use the majority of our energy. So that is where we must start to change the channel on this conversation. Not surprisingly, cities have been leading for decades on climate change by reducing energy demand and waste.  They will continue to do so because they see the opportunity to create jobs and improve the wellbeing of their communities if they take more control over their energy future.

Communities are also great at sharing their best ideas. So, I also make sure posts from QUEST and C40 Cities are in my twitter feed to remind me that the energy transition is about so much more than energy supply.

Acts of leadership

Change is coming – with or without a U.S. election.  We have a choice in how we react to it.  We can chart our own course or let others decide for us. We can remain irritated or get moving. To do that, we have to believe in two things: there can be more than one future and that as a society we can evaluate those futures and choose one over another.

An act of leadership can be as simple as changing the channel on a conversation.