“Elections change our leadership but they don’t change reality.” Those were the words of Matthew Hamilton, Sustainability Director at Aspen Skiing Company, contributing to an open letter that was published recently and addressed to President-elect Trump and President Obama as well as members of the US Congress and other global leaders.
As reported in an article in Forbes by former corporate executive and business writer, Victor Lipman, the letter was signed by senior leadership of more than 300 U.S. companies, including 72 with annual revenues exceeding $100 million. The purpose of the letter? To urge that the Paris climate agreement not be abandoned.
A strange turn of events.
Typically, political figures who deny the reality of climate change (or, at least, seek to obstruct attempts to ameliorate it) argue that any action taken to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels will impose an unacceptable financial burden on industry. Environmentalists are bad for business.
But here we have business leaders saying exactly the opposite. A direct quote from the letter: “We want the US economy to be energy efficient and powered by low-carbon energy. Cost-effective and innovative solutions can help us achieve these objectives. Failure to build a low-carbon economy puts American prosperity at risk.”
Leaders can make a big difference. But whether in business or politics, they have to have a sense of purpose that chimes not just with fundamental values but also with fundamental realities.