Guest essay by Eric Worrall
The Guardian is celebrating that Big Business jetted into a Miami Climate Conference, touting their 2050 climate plans and purchases of wind power. But in my opinion not everything is as it seems.
Top US firms including Walmart and Ford oppose Trump on climate change
- Big businesses appear at Miami summit to show progress on sustainability
- ‘We’ve been working on this for a long time, prior to this administration’
Richard Luscombe in Miami
Saturday 2 December 2017 03.32 AEDT
Since taking office, Donald Trump has pulled the United States out of the Paris climate agreement, rolled back numerous protections against environmental pollution and espoused coal as the fuel of the future, all in the name of job creation and ending what he sees as the “theft of American prosperity”.
Yet the big businesses he claims to champion are increasingly choosing to ignore the US president’s sceptical stance on climate change and press ahead towards their own environmental goals without him.
Several of the country’s corporate giants, including Walmart, General Motors, Ford and Mars, appeared this week at the second annual Companies v Climate Change conference in Miami to showcase their progress and reinforce their belief that sustainability and other green targets can be achieved irrespective of the policies and purpose of the White House.
“We were disappointed [the] US pulled out of Paris, but what’s so great is what companies can do to make a difference,” said Zach Freeze, senior director for strategic initiatives in sustainability at Walmart, the first retailer to announce science-based targets for emissions reductions and a key signatory to the We Are Still In declaration that followed Trump’s Paris withdrawal.
“We all have a lot we can do and should do, it’s becoming more and more of an imperative. We’ve been working on this for a long time, prior to this administration [and] we’re thinking about 10 years from now where we’re going to be. Regardless of what’s happening, this is something we believe in. If we do it the right way we will see progress.”
Walmart, which claims 260 million customers per week worldwide, and employs 1.4 million workers in the US alone, earlier this year announced its Project Gigaton initiative that aims to reduce CO2 emissions globally by one billion metric tons before 2050.
Other companies at the conference in Miami – a poignant venue following flooding from Hurricane Irma in September and the threat of obliteration from sea-level rise within the next century – touted their own achievements in defiance of Trump’s climate stance. For example, General Motors’ purchase of 200 megawatts of wind energy for its Ohio and Illinois plants achieves 20% of its target to use only renewable energy sources by 2050. Confectionery giant Mars, meanwhile, has launched a $1bn sustainability plan, targeting a 70% reduction in greenhouse gases.
As a small businessman I’ve noticed something about big business – they frequently seem to champion government initiatives which hurt small businesses, especially small businesses which are potential future competitors.
The Guardian claims President Trump is the champion of big business, but this is not true. President Trump wants to help all businesses, to create jobs and restore prosperity for the American people.
Many of those shuttered factories the President mentions in “theft of American prosperity” were owned by small businesses.
Plenty of small business people own factories, making a living and creating jobs providing a niche service. All of those small factory owners had the potential to grow into commercial rivals to big businesses – until the globalist green policies championed by their big business rivals shut them down.
I’m not saying big business green efforts are just a plot to hurt small business. Plenty of big business CEOs are true believers, they’ve drunk the Kool-Aid. A lot of their customers also worry about the climate, they like to be reassured that they’re not harming the environment when they buy big meat packs for their next family BBQ.
Of course not every big business CEO is the same. Some big businesses courageously oppose anti-competitive government policies, often earning strident public criticism for their efforts, despite the short term advantage such policies would deliver to their own businesses.
The bottom line, it does not hurt the competitive advantage of most big businesses to support policies which increase the costs and time wasting bureaucratic burden on all businesses. Big businesses can usually absorb the extra bureaucracy and cost. Small businesses not so much.