We recently became a signatory of the National Climate Ethics Campaign’s Climate Moral Obligation Statement. We do believe that we have a moral and ethical obligation, as the wealthiest nation in the world, to do everything we can to address the issue. This is not only for our nation, but also for nations that don’t have our resources; for this generation and for generations unborn.
As socially & environmentally responsible investment advisors, we see this as both an obligation and an opportunity. We want to own companies that are being proactive about reducing their climate impact, and use our shareholder clout to push other companies to integrate climate responsibility into their strategies.
Here’s the text of the Statement:
STATEMENT OF OUR NATION’S MORAL OBLIGATION
TO ADDRESS CLIMATE CHANGE
We, the undersigned current and former elected officials and representatives from the business, labor, youth, financial, mental health, physical health, conservation, racial justice, civil rights, and faith communities of the United States, recognize that climate change is a real, dangerous, and rapidly worsening problem with deep moral implications.
Although reducing carbon pollution will have costs, it will also produce incalculable benefits. Our response must therefore be driven not solely by near-term economic or national self-interest. We must also acknowledge and act on our long-standing moral obligation to protect current and future generations from suffering and death, to honor principles of justice and equity, and to protect the great Earth systems on which the wellbeing of all life, including ours, depends.
We call on every citizen to act on these moral principles without delay. Individually, and collectively as a nation, we must rapidly reduce carbon pollution by significant levels, prepare for the consequences of an already warming planet, and insist on public policies that support these goals and create a just transition to a low-carbon economy. The risks of inaction are exceedingly high. The benefits of acting on these moral principles are even greater.
The Moral Obligation to Prevent Suffering and Protect Human Life
The most fundamental of our guiding moral principles is that it is wrong to unjustifiably cause human suffering or death. Climate change-related impacts are already harming and killing people here and abroad. Unless carbon pollution is rapidly reduced, the resulting natural disasters, floods, diseases, illnesses, water and food shortages, and environmental degradation, along with associated rising violence and social breakdown, will injure or kill millions more every year.
Climate change-induced suffering from food shortages and the dramatic spread of disease and illness will be especially significant. Millions of people worldwide will be affected. Suffering will also result from the job losses and disruptions to families and communities caused by the billions of dollars in direct and indirect annual costs of climate impacts, as well as from the escalating market volatility, supply chain disruptions, and other impacts businesses will experience.
Over the past century, the U.S. has been the world’s largest overall contributor to climate change, generating about 30 percent of the total energy-related CO2 emissions that are destabilizing the climate. Today, we continue to produce far more emissions on an annual basis than any other nation except China. Even if the costs are high, we must avert one of the worst violations of human rights the world has ever seen by acknowledging our contribution to the climate crisis and significantly reducing our emissions.
The shift to a low carbon economy can create millions of good jobs that support healthy families and communities. This requires a ‘just transition’ that spreads the investments in solutions and the benefits of new approaches equitably, enables whole industries to make the changes needed, provides adequate resources for workers and communities adversely affected by the shift and ensures that all Americans have a democratic voice in their workplaces and their communities in how those decisions are made.
The Moral Responsibility to Honor Principles of Justice and Equity
Those who suffer the most from climate change are not the same people who now benefit greatly from the overuse of fossil fuels and other natural resources. As a matter of justice and equity, we have a moral obligation to reduce our carbon pollution in order to prevent suffering and death among people who have contributed little to climate change but who are, at least initially, most impacted: those living in the Arctic; people in less developed, hotter regions of the world; low-income and working-class communities; communities of color; women as well as children in the U.S.; and future generations everywhere.
In addition, even as we reduce our emissions we must do our part to ensure that vulnerable populations and nations have the financial and technological capacity to prepare for and adapt to the consequences of a warming planet and grow clean energy economies.
The Moral Obligation to Honor and Protect the Processes that Make Life Possible
Because we have a moral obligation to protect human life and prevent suffering and injustice, and because Earth’s gifts have intrinsic value, we have a responsibility to protect the ecosystems and organisms that provide the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink, the materials we use to sustain life and prosperity, and the natural beauty that lifts our spirits.
Whether we believe that the Earth and its great abundance is a product of natural processes or, as millions of people nationwide believe, that the Earth is the gift of the Creator, or both, our obligations are fundamentally the same–we must be good stewards of what we have inherited. Humanity is not in command of creation, but merely part of it. To disrupt the climate that is the cornerstone of all life on Earth and to squander the extraordinary abundance of life, richness, and beauty of the planet is morally wrong.
We Already Have the Know-How and Tools
The people of our great nation have the spirit, knowledge, and tools required to reduce climate change. The greatest obstacle is lack of human will. History is watching us. Our legacy will be determined by what we do now and in the next few years.
We call on everyone in the U.S. to act on their moral principles now by rapidly and significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions in their homes, places of work and government.
We call on every citizen to actively prepare for the consequences of climate change.
Moreover, we urge every citizen to insist that their government adopt policies to foster emission reductions and prepare for climate change, and to provide sufficient resources to build the capacity of the most impacted people worldwide to do the same.
This is not just about avoiding harm. Acting on our moral principles will foster the growth of a sustainable economy that creates millions of good jobs in clean energy fields, supports healthy families, and builds vibrant communities. That, itself, makes this imperative.
The need for action is urgent, the possibilities enormous. Please join us in heeding this call.
I received a completely unexpected email from a friend/acquaintance in Roanoke, VA this morning. It was one of those times when I was left completely speechless, the words of gratitude it expressed went straight to my heart. Here’s the text of the email:
Just a quick note to say: Thanks!!!! One year ago at the Energy Expo in Roanoke, after hearing what my longterm plans and goals were, you asked me: “Why is this in the future? Why not now?” That question changed my life. Shortly afterward (the same day) I approached Barry and told him that we should go into business together. Today Barry and I are partners in Better Building Works, LLC. We’re excited and busy! Thanks for that one important question.
It’s been said, that if you can say, when you die, that you’ve changed somebody’s life, that you’ve lived a life worth living. I’m grateful, that in the position I’m in, I’ve had the opportunity to hear those wonderful words more than once. And every day, I do everything I can to provide peace of mind for my clients, and inspiration & leadership to those around me.
If someone has made a difference in your life, reach out to them. And, if you haven’t thanked them yet, do so now!
I challenge our clients & friends to go out and make a difference – in your own lives and the lives of others. Ask the tough & provocative questions; realize that it’s time to stop waiting for the ideal time to follow your dreams; give a hug; simply do the right thing; say Thank You!
I believe in taking a stand for your principles. The Asheville Citizen-Times reported today that the Asheville Chamber of Commerce will not be renewing it’s association with the US Chamber of Commerce. This is a gusty move that should be applauded. The US Chamber has become more and more partisan over the past several years and spends millions of dollars in it’s attempt to influence elections. It has come out as a climate change skeptic, and actively worked against health care reform.
The US Chamber of commerce does not represent the needs and views of the Asheville Chamber or it’s members. Again, I applaud Asheville for taking a stand.
This past Thursday, I had the wonderful opportunity to sit on a leadership panel, sponsored by Webster University, at the Education Center at Fort Stewart, GA. The event, called the “World Class Leadership Lecture Series” was coordinated by Webster instructor, Bill Garlen – an experienced and very successful businessman who truly believes in giving back and doing the right thing. On the panel with me were two other exceptional leaders: Frank Slotin, CPA and managing director at Karp Ronning & Tindol in Savannah and Robert James, a Harvard educated attorney and developer out of Atlanta & Savannah.
I’ve had the good fortune to work with all three gentlemen in the past, so I was excited when I received the invitation. We were told to expect a number of MBA students from Webster’s program, but also administrators, senior military personnel and undergrads from the other schools offering classes at the Education Center. A very diverse crowd of over thirty people attended, including the Command Sargent Major (highest ranking non-commissioned officer at the fort.)
The questions were excellent, and it was evident that the students had prepared. They asked about attributes of leadership, how core values fit into a successful career and for advice on management. Topics such as how to use social media, the transition from military management to the soft skills necessary in business and even how to open a restaurant were discussed – and much more, as you can imagine in a 1 1/2 hour event. Nothing was off-limits.
I have been on several panels and given many talks over the past few years, and I have to say that this was the most rewarding and enjoyable. The attendees were engaged and were interested & interesting; the panel worked well together and gave some great advice. I feel like we made a real difference in the lives of these folks.
Bill Garlen, the coordinator of the event, sent out a wonderful email the next day and said “I believe everyone that attended agreed it was one of those rare times when everyone realized they were experiencing a once-in-a-lifetime moment of authentic leadership at its finest. You have truly impacted their lives forever.” Even the Command Sargent Major said that it was one of the best events he had ever attended. I am most grateful for the compliments!
I would like to challenge anyone who reads this to go out today and make your difference – big or small, it doesn’t matter, just so long as you do it.
One in Six Americans are now living below the poverty level. This means that a family of four is basically living at or below $22,000 per year.
Corporate profits are hitting records, and the disparity between rich and poor grows. It would seem to me that now is not the time to be cutting social safety nets, but rather a time of ending corporate welfare and tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.