Amy Fliegelman OlliJune 06, 2017

Paris Accord Dissention is Inspiring Global Action Like Never Before

If you had your eyes on any news network last week, you no doubt felt the collective disappointment that followed President Trump’s decision to exit the Paris Climate Accord. Regardless of where you fall in the political spectrum, I think we can all agree that addressing climate change is a priority, not just for the United States but for the world. I, like many of you, felt profound sadness over the president’s decision. That feeling, however, was almost immediately replaced by elated optimism. Here’s why.

The global response, which could only be described as a rallying cry, was swift and tremendous.

Business leadersstate and local government officials, and everyday citizens took to the airwaves and social media to pledge their support and steadfast commitment to continuing our climate change work. (It’s worth noting that 7 out of 10 Americans support remaining in the agreement.)

Mike Bloomberg promised $15M of his own money to the UN to make up for what they’ll lose because of the United States’ exit.

Two of the world’s biggest oil suppliers along with countless other companies such as Facebook, Apple, Walmart, Tesla, Google, Microsoft, and Goldman Sachs reiterated their support for the Paris Accord, as well as their commitment to uphold its tenants. In fact, 25 major companies took out a full-page ad in The New York Times with a letter urging President Trump to stay in the accord.

Seeing all this unfold was like watching one million shafts of light breaking through the darkest clouds, and I became inspired and motivated like never before as it relates to climate change.

The fact is there has never been a global issue where success relies on the support of any one leader. When it comes to tackling climate change, we’ve always needed all hands on deck. But as you know it’s one of many issues the world is facing today and it’s easy to get distracted and take our eye off the ball.

Here’s to Unintended Consequences

One of the unintended consequences of President Trump’s decision is that people are emboldened. Apathy has been replaced with renewed spirit and energy. People are paying attention. We are channeling our anger and disappointment into action. This is what we’ve needed all along. I’d actually call this our global AHA moment. For the first time, I believe we are more strongly positioned to bring about the change that’s needed to reverse the effects of climate change.

So on the surface, it may look as though we’ve lost something, but in reality the opposite has occurred. President Trump gave the world the jolt it needed to demand aggressive action from ourselves and one another. #SilverLinings

We’ve Always Had the Power

As Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” Push your representatives at the state and local levels to legislate environmental standards, and vote out those who don’t.

As a consumer, reward companies “doing good” in the world (avoid companies that aren’t) and make certain their CSR strategies are always evolving. (My colleague Morag Lucey wrote an excellent piece on this very topic.)

As I shared in a previous blog, we have the power to bring about profound and meaningful change … we’ve always had it. That’s an incredible position in which to be. Never forget that.

Finally, all of us together can recreate the Paris Climate Accord in our own homes. How? By going big and small. As Jonathan Harrington, author of The Climate Diet: How You Can Cut Carbon, Cut Costs, and Save the Planet, wrote: every little bit counts. He’s absolutely right.

Amy Fliegelman Olli

Amy Fliegelman Olli's career spans almost 30 years and covers legal, governance, compliance, internal audit, security, risk management and controls. In 2010, Amy was the winner of Burton's Legends in Law award. In 2011, she was named by the Diversity Journal as a Woman Worth Watching. She was also a 2014 winner of the Aiming High Award from Legal Momentum.

Read Articles by Amy Fliegelman Olli


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