Businesses Blast President's Lack of Leadership on Climate Change
The State of the Union address included some important measures on reducing oil consumption, yet the president fell short of announcing specific targets for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. A partnership of local, cutting-edge sustainable businesses is arguing that this is not good enough. They claim that numerous organizations, both small and large, are pioneering a new industrial revolution, and that they are redefining American values in the process. The group is asking the president to get on board and support them with a stronger commitment to clean development, and to back up his support with specific, tough targets for greenhouse gas reductions. They also point out that there has been precious little progress on the ground since the last State of the Union, when the president acknowledged the nations' "addiction to oil."
Jerry Stifleman, who leads The Change, a Carrboro-based marketing company specializing in sustainability, sees the challenge both as a moral duty, and a case of enlightened self-interest:
"A target of 20% reduction in oil use in 10 years isn't something that makes me jazzed to be an American. When I grew up I was taught that America was a leader among nations. We should be taking the initiative to solve a crisis that will disproportionally affect poor nations who've never even had the chance to benefit economically from the a carbon economy. It's also all about innovation — you don't need to be a genius to know the leading industries of the future won't be based on fossil fuels. If America united around a bold solution instead of a milquetoast approach, it would benefit our economy and give us a sense of shared purpose."
Rumors that the president would use the State of the Union address to announce a rethink on environmental issues surfaced in a British newspaper recently. The London-based Guardian reported that Bush might be willing to reconsider his stance, paving the way for an agreement on global caps on emissions to be thrashed out at the G8 summit in June . Ultimately, however, George Bush failed to even mention targets for greenhouse gas emissions. This comes at a time when a new report, due out in Febuary, suggests that global warming will happen much faster, and the impacts will be much harsher, than originally thought .
In sharp contrast to the lack of leadership from the Whitehouse, a growing number of small, independent businesses are pioneering a new, green economy. One of the local companies supporting the appeal to the president include Larry's Beans, a distributor of fairtrade, organic coffee that uses waste vegetable oil to run some of its delivery vehicles. Larry Larson, CEO and Founder of Larry's Beans argues that tackling climate change is also an opportunity to solve many other problems associated with fossil fuels:
"Climate change is only part of the problem. There are so many other effect of oil-pollution too. Developing sustainable energy is good all the way around. It's really difficult for me to understand how a nation as innovative and powerful as our own has yet to take a non-oil dependent approach to our future needs. Leadership from our national politicians, especially our president has failed on a cataclysmic level. I do hope we have not missed our window. "
Lyle Estill, of Piedmont Biofuels, was equally dissapointed:
"I was hoping that when the President said we needed to embark on
'large endeavors' he was referring to our current energy crisis. I was glad climate change
got a mention, but it appears this administration is still bandying
about technofixes and speaking in empty platitudes when it comes to
diversifying our energy mix. It sounds like when this President refers to 'new infrastructure,'
he means the fence we are building down on the border."
Companies Supporting this Statement:
Brand Strategy and Design for Good-for-the-World Businesses and Non-profits.
Coffee Artists, Fair Trade Mavericks.
A worker and member-owned cooperative promoting and offering biodiesel fuel made from vegetable oil.
Director of Sustainability
Tel: (919) 338 2129
Cel: (919) 428 0945
“All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality.”
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.