Posts Tagged ‘cap and trade’

News Flash: Climate Legislation Lacks Leadership

Page 3 of this morning’s Wall Street Journal announces, “Senate Halts Effort to Cap CO2 Emissions.“  I am outraged … but not surprised.  Not in the least.

I was in Washington yesterday, on business unrelated to climate legislation — I was invited to a Congressional briefing on the role of private enterprise in rebuilding a devastated Haiti.  That’s a topic for another blog post … but it almost doesn’t matter why I was there, since the experience is so often the same regardless of the focus.  Too many so-called “leaders” posturing and posing and blowing hot air in form of prepared, approved, predictable remarks.  Too many politicians that have been entrusted to lead, to put the best interests of their states and their constituents first, instead doing predictably nothing to fulfill their duties or address any interest that isn’t their own, or that of their party.  Senate Democratic leadership shelved their cap-and-trade effort?  The most astonishing part about that news to me is that the effort ever made it this far.

The article could have stopped there, one paragraph in, but goes on to offer half a page of familiar excuses from climate legislation opponents for why cap and trade is to be feared and avoided like a deal with the devil.  I can see them — did see them, yesterday, our principled “leaders” — wringing their hands and shaking their heads and trying to work up expressions of earnest concern: “Cap and trade would kill jobs!  Cripple our industries! Put us at a disadvantage to Chinese rivals! Force higher costs for consumers!” From Congress and the President — instead of legislation, instead of engaged democracy, we get the EPA setting guidelines in a backroom somewhere.  This is not the way to make America energy independent, or to ensure that American business is sustainable–financially and environmentally.

Washington can – and will – continue on the path of pretense, working hard to appear to be working hard on the crisis facing our natural environment, while actually doing nothing — except making cheap headlines, by demonizing “fat cat bankers” or “scurrilous CEOs,” which earns a cheap laugh from the press, and maybe even earns votes from the manipulated masses. Is this what the greatest democracy in the history of humankind is reduced to — toxic rhetoric from the left and the right?

In the meantime, thank goodness for the creative power of the private sector.  The solar industry will continue to expand (especially in China, where that government has decided that clean energy is a priority).  And despite the absence of a clear policy, or even any real policy on sustainability, private enterprise, maligned by this administration regularly, will continue to reduce their emissions and lower their energy costs. It is good business, common sense, and competitive advantage to lower your environmental impact.  No wonder our “leaders” in Washington don’t get it.

Timberland has reduced our carbon emissions by almost 40% against our 2006 baseline–lowering costs, making our business more profitable and more sustainable. We are a mid-size business competing in the global economy, and we are doing what our “leaders” say can’t be done — we are being competitive, and we are building sustainability into our business model.

Would a clear government policy on carbon help — the way a minimum wage or CAFE standards help industry? You bet.  But as the Wall Street Journal article demonstrates clearly — if you’re waiting for leadership from the Beltway Denizens on climate change, settle in.  Rhetoric aplenty … leadership, not a whit.

Someone let me know when there’s actual news breaking about principled leadership regarding climate change from this administration … in the meantime, I’ve got a responsible business to run.

Jeff Swartz
President & CEO, Timberland