Posts Tagged ‘President Elect Obama’

“Green” Economic Recovery Plan More Important Than Ever

As a Massachusetts native and an environmental scientist, I listened to Boston Mayor Menino’s  State of the City Address last night with great interest.  Clearly, the economic crisis is as pervasive in Boston as it is anywhere else in the nation, and despite the optimism that comes with a new year and new presidential administration, any real relief from the financial pressure being felt by so many is still beyond immediate reach.  Given that grim reality, how encouraging to hear Mayor Menino recognize and highlight the city’s investment in green technology, green jobs and green businesses as a critical component of Boston’s economic future.

Where there’s clearly a need to address the economic crisis with tangible and immediate action, to ignore the potential benefits of perhaps less obvious efforts involving clean energy and sustainable development would be short-sighted.  President-elect Obama himself has pledged to double renewable energy production in an effort to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and put people back to work – a move that would most certainly contribute to the nation’s economic relief.

We need more visionary leaders like Mayor Menino and President-elect Obama to include environmentally-conscious thinking in their recovery plans … leaders of cities and states but also leaders of companies large and small.  Economic stability and environmental sustainability are part and parcel of our future success, but we’ve got to commit to that notion – and start purposefully incorporating energy efficiency, clean technology, renewable energy in our planning and operations. 

In last night’s speech, Mayor Menino called for “urgent action.”  Following his lead and embracing green ideas, programs and innovations will allow us to realize a more economically and environmentally sustainable future.  Who else out there is ready to meet the call? 

Betsy Blaisdell
Manager of Environmental Stewardship, Timberland

Creating Accountability on Climate Change

Yesterday, President Elect Obama vowed to place climate change at the top of his agenda – a move I applaud.  His strongly-worded remarks were both refreshing and reassuring, a sharp contrast against the refusal of administrations, Democratic and Republican, over the last several decades to address climate change in any meaningful fashion.

Impacts of climate change can be felt across borders and across every sector of civic society.  We are living through the dreadful awareness of what happens when we try to manage inter-connected systems with conventional, unconnected governance models.  Who knew that American real estate speculators could help unravel the world’s banking system?  “Environmental crisis” is poised to replace “economic crisis” in news headlines around the world; and for this crisis, no “bail out” plan will rescue us, or future generations, from the real damage being done to our physical environment.

In addition to Washington putting climate change at the top of its agenda, another complementary, yet elementary, part – if you want a real solution to climate change – is at the cash register you visit every day. As powerful and relevant as the government is, for-profit business has a huge, even outsized impact on the question of climate change. CEOs – yes, that demonized group characterized by greed and self dealing – have the potential to foster huge, positive impact on climate change.  Businesses buy and sell along a value chain that stretches across the globe, from developed economies to developing economies. CEOs can and do have a huge impact on climate change, in the way they run their businesses, in the choices they make about materials, energy use, chemical use, transportation. And if you want to influence those choices – you, the citizen consumer – can.  Imagine if you insisted on organic content in the food you purchase.  Lo and behold – an entire industry springs into action, to deliver organic produce.  Imagine if you demanded that Timberland or Nike or the Gap use organic cotton, rather than pesticide laden factory-farmed cotton.  Just imagine.

I am not saying government doesn’t have an important role in solving climate change – clearly it does.  But if we expect President Elect Obama or Congress to solve the issues facing the environment alone, we’re fooling ourselves.  It will take more effort to reverse the damage being done to our environment worldwide. Citizen consumers have the power to force change, by holding brands and businesses to a higher standard – and in turn many businesses must change they way they currently operate.  With everyday “votes” on what goods and services you buy, you can create a different kind of accountability on climate change.  Consumers can use their purchasing power to hold corporate America responsible for doing more than “working on” climate change.

Jeff Swartz
President & CEO, Timberland