New Hampshire is my home – I put down both my personal and professional roots here. My daily livelihood, working at Timberland, depends on the outdoors. That’s why the effects of climate change are so worrisome to my colleagues and me – not only with regard to our surroundings, but with regard to our business. We’re determined to protect our environment, doing things such as cutting our greenhouse-gas emissions by more than 46% since 2006. We have saved $150,000 a year by simply switching to LED lighting in our US stores and are buying more renewable energy every year.
But there is only so much one company can do. That’s why we joined with BICEP (Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy), Ceres and a group of 40 US corporations including other big brand names like General Motors, Nike and Starbucks, in signing a Climate Declaration, to call on President Obama and Congress to combat climate change. Since April over 600 companies, including more than 100 ski areas and hundreds of small businesses, have joined our call.
We wrote in the Declaration: “We cannot risk our kids’ futures on the false hope that the vast majority of scientists are wrong.” And we believe that if addressed correctly, today’s energy and climate dilemmas offer our nation one of the greatest economic opportunities of the 21st century.
On Tuesday, June 25, President Obama answered our call to action with a bold new plan to tackle climate change. Among other initiatives, the President’s plan will set the first-ever limits on carbon dioxide emissions from new and existing power plants, boost deployment of renewable energy on public lands and in federal buildings, and support strategies that will increase American resilience to extreme weather spurred on by climate change. It’s a lot of work, but to Climate Declaration signatories like Timberland, it looks like an economic opportunity.
Together, the Climate Declaration signatories provide approximately over 625,000 US jobs and generate a combined annual revenue of more than $640 billion. Extreme weather events like Hurricane Sandy have affected many American businesses and exposed the United States’ economic vulnerability to climate change. We need solutions from policymakers that address these issues at a nationwide scale, while also strengthening the economy. The President’s plan takes the important first step toward building those solutions.
But the response to the climate crisis can’t come from only one branch of government. Congress must play a role. And, with the introduction major bipartisan energy efficiency legislation by Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Rob Portman (R-OH), there are signs that Congress is pursuing smart policies that reduce emissions and save Americans money. Their bill, the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2013, passed through committee earlier this year and is expected to go to vote.
This legislation would authorize new model building codes that will boost efficiency — and save money — in homes and businesses across the country. It would create a state-based private financing program for efficiency upgrades and establish a Supply Star program, modeled after the well-known Energy Star program, which would promote energy-efficient supply chains.
It also sets best practices for efficient energy use within the federal government, ensuring that Washington spends less on energy in the future.
Businesses understand that in order to plan for a successful tomorrow, investment must begin today. Congress can steer the nation onto a better path by passing laws that will both protect our planet and grow our economy. We encourage lawmakers to embrace this opportunity, for the benefit of both the environment and working Americans alike.
Betsy Blaisdell is the senior manager of environmental stewardship for The Timberland Company, headquartered in Stratham, New Hampshire. Timberland is a founding member of BICEP, Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy, a project of Ceres, a business coalition working for sustainability.