This Election Day, Leverage Your Influence on Climate

Nov 5, 2018 2:10 PM ET
Campaign: EDF Climate Corps


I remember the exhilaration I felt as my mom and dad drew the curtain to fill out their ballot, and I know I’ll experience a similar sensation tomorrow when I cast a vote for what I believe in: A cleaner, better future.

Findings from last month’s IPCC Special Report show the dramatic effects that climate change is already having and will continue to have on our planet. It’s a world of more extreme storms, rising sea levels and vulnerable global supply chains. It’s a world that looks vastly different from the prosperous, clean energy future so many of us desire.

That’s why tomorrow, I’ll head to the polls with my wife and my 6-month-old daughter, and we’ll vote for candidates who support policies that help stabilize our climate. From there, I’ll head to work where I’ll fight for a low carbon future in another way: By empowering business leaders to make climate action a top priority within and outside of their four walls.

Companies have the power and responsibility to lead on climate, which is why I see business as an ally when it comes to fighting for cleaner policies. But, based on that IPCC report, more companies need to get in the game—and the companies who are already engaged need to do more. Here are two ways that you, whether you are a junior employee or senior director, can engage on climate action.

1. Redefine business as usual

Gone are the days where a company’s sole mission is to turn a profit. Today, consumers believecompanies have a responsibility to take a stand on social and environmental issues, and businesses are responding. They are reducing their carbon footprints by advancing clean energy, scaling efficiency and driving innovation to benefit the environment and their bottom lines. And many are taking it one step further by looking beyond their own four walls to engage suppliers across their value chain.

In her role, Jess provides agronomic and sustainability guidance to AB InBev’s primary suppliers – farmers. She focuses on reducing the environmental footprint of this process by integrating emerging technologies into their activities, such as moisture sensors and precision irrigation and seeding, and advising them on sustainable practices. The result is a cleaner global supply chain, with suppliers that are more sustainable and financially empowered.This new norm is causing a growing demand for talent. Specifically, leaders that are uniquely equipped to reimagine what business should look like through a sustainability lens. Take Jess Newman for example. Jess was an EDF Climate Corps fellow back in 2015, and is now the Director of U.S. Agronomy at Anheuser-Busch.

There is a growing contingent of other professionals like Jess who are making a difference by either driving change from within or starting their own sustainably driven enterprises.

2. Engage in policy

Aside from reducing their carbon footprints, companies can drive climate action by advocating for smart climate and energy policy. In recent years, we’ve seen a surge in the number of companies that are defending critical legislation like the Clean Power Plan, thanking public officials for introducing bills to help fight climate change and helping to increase voter turnout.

Just last week, Walmart, Lyft and Patagonia shared how they are encouraging their employees to vote, and Uber and Lyft are offering free and discounted rides to the polls on Election Day.

Part of getting companies active on climate policies requires action at the individual level. EDF Climate Corps launched a series of educational and capacity building efforts on climate advocacy. Through a combination of in-person workshops and virtual webinars, trainees go on to advocate for climate policies at all levels of business and government.

Katie Walsh, a 2013 Climate Corps fellow with the City of Philadelphia is a Senior Manager at CDP and founder of the nonprofit, Sustain the Vote, which educates and informs candidates for elected office about climate change and sustainability. Last year, Katie participated in our climate advocacy training, which inspired her to run for elected office – and win – in Brooklyn, New York where she will help to influence the direction of important local policy issues.

So, this election season, leverage what you can to make an impact: your vote, your influence within your company, and the individual actions you can take on the issues you care about.