Archbishop Desmond Tutu penned those words about 5 ½ years ago as part of an opinion piece published in The Guardian, a London-based newspaper. Despite the release earlier this month of a CBS News poll indicating that a majority of Americans want climate change addressed now, progress has been very slow.
20th marks the second anniversary of the Global Climate Strike, a movement
which began last year when a Swedish schoolgirl encouraged her classmates to
walk out of class for a few hours and insist that action be taken against
global warming. Within the next few days, 1.4 million students around the world
responded and are now encouraging their elders to do the same this year.
More and more businesses heard the plea and are becoming more vocal about climate change with some even letting their workers off go participate in Global Climate Strike 2019. Others have encouraged their Generation Z and millennial customers to do the same or support their position.
This year’s Global
Climate Strike happens to fall three days before the United Nations plans to
hold a climate summit in New York City. What’s blurred the situation is the
withdrawal of the U.S. in 2017 from the Paris Agreement, a U.N. international
agreement that put forth the outline for participating countries to begin
addressing climate change.
Besides the 56% of
Americans wanting action taken against climate change in the CBS News poll,
most also regard it as a grave issue. 67% believe people can solve the problem.
How It Impacts
Every company relies on energy in varying degrees. If yours consumes a lot and you haven’t yet taken a position on climate change, seriously consider reaching consensus on a climate change position statement. Also, discuss what your company might investigate and do to reduce its energy consumption.
Keep in mind that
only 10% of respondents in the CBS News poll don’t believe humans contribute to
climate change and only 9% don’t believe it’s happening. As more and more
scientists speak out, the 64% of Americans who currently believe climate change
is a serious problem will get even larger.
What this likely
means is that sooner or later your consumers, whether they are shareholders,
employees, and/or the media will inquire about climate change issues. You want
to be prepared to respond appropriately.
Ideally, it would
be wise to pre-empt this issue by releasing the company position and what it’s
doing beforehand. The advantage of doing this is that your public will know
that the matter was considered and deliberated, and that progress is being
If that’s not
possible, you should have a statement ready to go when asked. Keep in mind that
you may get asked why the company never released this information earlier since
it was readily available. You’ll need to consider a response to that as well.
Whichever path you
pursue, be sure to keep your target audiences well-informed.