The Easiest Environmental Decision You’ll Ever Make

Hillary Clinton says: “Climate change is an urgent threat and a defining challenge of our time.”

Donald Trump says: “I don’t believe in climate change. … It’s a hoax.”

Greenland ice melt Sept 2016, courtesy of John Englander

If you understand that climate change is real and happening and of huge importance, that doesn’t leave you much to decide. That’s a political decision, of course.  I don’t usually write about politics.  But the policy implications of the political outcome are just too big to ignore.

This isn’t one of those issues that gets lost in the swamp of charges and countercharges and the race to the bottom of whom you trust least.  This doesn’t depend on which cable news channel you watch. Just go to the source.  Go to their campaign web sites:

  • Hillary Clinton’s web site lists “Environment” as a top level issue. Donald Trump’s web site  has no Environment section at all. His site has an “Economic Vision” section which includes “Energy reform”, where he addresses environmental issues.
  • On the Paris Agreement: Clinton’s “Environment” section begins, “Hillary’s plan will deliver on the pledge President Obama made at the Paris climate conference.” Trump’s site says: “Cancel the Paris Climate Agreement (limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius) and stop all payments of U.S. tax dollars to U.N. global warming programs.”
  • On the Clean Power Plan: Clinton promises to “[d]efend, implement, and extend … the Clean Power Plan and standards for cars, trucks, and appliances that are already helping clean our air, save families money, and fight climate change.” Trump promises to: “Rescind all the job-destroying Obama executive actions including the Climate Action Plan…..”

That leaves no choice. A vote for Hillary Clinton is a vote to admit climate change is real and make urgent progress to deal with it.  A vote for Donald Trump is a vote for denial – denial of science, denial of reality, and denial of our responsibility to our future, our children and our world. And make no mistake.  A vote for anyone else – or failure to vote – is, in effect, a vote for Trump and denial.

If this discomfits any of my clients or partners, so be it.  This issue is too important to be left vague.  I do want to be very clear: I am speaking for myself, and not them (please see my usual disclaimer below.)

To those clients, though, I would suggest a few moments’ reflection.  I am deeply sympathetic to the challenges of stranded assets – not to mention stranded careers, pensions and egos.  However, I also know that many clients in fact do understand climate change but find it politically uncomfortable – if not dangerous – to speak openly in their companies.  To those clients, I would say: “Let’s talk about how to exercise responsible leadership in your company  without committing suicide.  Let’s talk about ‘leading from below.’ But please remember, your company won’t be in the voting booth with you.”

As a strategist, I would advise even those clients who don’t agree to think carefully.  Public demands for climate change action will continue and intensify, regardless of the outcome of the election.  The question is whether government will step up and play its role to lead on solving public policy issues, or step back and leave business to bear the brunt of those demands.  Would you rather have rational public policy that sets clear expectations applying to all companies, creates a level playing field and spells out what should be disclosed?  Or would you like intensified guerrilla warfare with your consumers, customers, investors, employees and the media?

Doesn’t seem like that hard a decision.

[Opinions in this blog are solely those of Scott Nadler and do not necessarily represent views of Nadler Strategy’s clients or partners, or those cited in the post. To share this blog, see additional posts on Scott’s blog or subscribe please go to nadlerstrategy.com.]

3 thoughts on “The Easiest Environmental Decision You’ll Ever Make

  1. Scott,

    Once again, you cut to the simple truth. From the Bible – John 8:32: And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

    Leaders can either wring their hands about standing up for what they know to be true and honest, or they can hope others will save our country and inevitably our planet.

    Thank you for your leadership!

    Chris

  2. Scott – Bravo! Courageous. I too avoid politics as fully as possible. My work about rising sea level and climate change is without any political messages. You have chosen high ground here. Civilization — literally the future of humanity — now faces a stark decision: Either burn all the fossil fuel we can for maximum short term profit — OR — plan to transition ASAP to renewable energy to avoid “cooking” my favorite planet.
    There are lots of ways to frame this, such as ‘burying our head in the sand’ but the reality is unambiguous. What we do in the next decade could well determine the future of humanity – in this case, that is not an exaggeration. Raising the average global temperature by the current projected 8 degrees F is likely lethal to life as we know it. Has there ever been a more profound and permanent choice? It is not only a question of morality, but survival. Survival should trump simple short-sighted profit.

  3. I applaud your effort and your courage in putting the greater good above your own pursuits. A true example of integrity. I wish I had the fortitude to take similar principled stands. Kudos.

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