Notes from the United Nations
by Michael Green, Executive Director
The Bionnassay Glacier sits right below the summit of Mont Blanc, the highest point in the Alps and Eastern Europe. The mountain towers over the landscape of France, Switzerland and Italy and attracts thousands to its peak as travelers come seeking a challenge and adventure. For me, reaching the high alpine glacier was the real goal. As someone who has spent much of the last ten years focussed on climate change, I wanted to see these giants before they disappeared. The glaciers in the Alps are some of the fastest shrinking on the planet. Some scientists believe they could be gone before the next generation even has the opportunity to travel to the mighty peaks.
Due to the high popularity of the region, it has also become one of the most dangerous glacial areas. With an average of 113 deaths each year, I knew to trust my instincts and rely on my experience. While I had exceptional hiking conditions for June, the groans and thunder of the collapsing glacier served as a constant reminder of the power which surrounded me.
While I do wish I had the opportunity for an extended vacation in the area, my trip to Chamonix was only a slight detour from the work that brought me to Geneva. Since the Trump Administration announced their withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement, I have doubled down my commitment to find a way we can champion the voice of sustainable business leaders in juxtaposition to their policies. We plan to return to the negotiations in the fall when global governments will sit back at the table in Bonn Germany. The administration believes that they will negotiate with the global community and come to a new platform that will work for their vision of america.
Some reading this may be critical of the Paris Climate Agreement and are likely correct in many of their assumptions. Without a real enforcement mechanism and a commitment to bold action, it is not what we deserve and it will not stop our destruction of a habitable planet. What I believe it did create is a commitment to increasing ambition and creating opportunity as we move forward against these challenges. Donald Trump and his team of profiteers are not looking out for the American economy or our ability to stay competitive in a global marketplace. They are instead working towards a vision that is forgotten at least and detested at worst.
With renewable energy serving as the fastest growing energy provider in our country and globally, the massive transition away from fossil fuels is in full swing. The only real question that remains is if we will be able to move fast enough. That is why I view the Trump Administration’s policy as such a threat. We do not have time to waste at this point. With many climate scientists saying we need to begin a rapid reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and be as close to zero as possible by mid century, every year from here on out must count.
Part of my strategy for pushing back against their vision of America means continuing to attend the negotiations and build community while they build enemies. That is why I traveled to Geneva last month and why I attended the Sustainable Development Goals Business Forum in New York City this past week. While the administration continues to use rhetoric against the United Nations and generally not show up (see picture below) we will find opportunities to collaborate and provide a different narrative and vision. Our vision is inclusive not divisive, it is based on a commitment to future generations not the politics of Me First, it believes that much of what we take for granted is a human right and must be guaranteed for all.
Thomas Edison said “ninety per cent of success in business is perspiration”. From working with local business leaders, we know that this could not be more true. We have learned from the CABA community that dedication to the businesses you build and the community which surrounds you is not luck, but instead due to a commitment that you have made to success. That success might be a great relationship with your customer, an engaged base of employees, a new technology or a solution to an old problem.
This doesn’t only pertain to building your business, but climbing a mountain. Much like climbing in the high mountains, the CABA community knows that you need to show up, put in the work and remain dedicated to success. While the current administration serves as an immediate challenge and something that must be dealt with, overcoming them does not represent reaching the summit. We may still have a long way to go in our fight against climate change; however, I am committed to this journey with you all.
Michael Green comes to CABA as a seasoned advocate for climate policy and environmental action. Since 2012, he has served as a representative to the United Nations focusing on international climate science and policy. In his role at CABA, Michael manages staff and oversees the development of all program areas. He sits on the Board of Boston area non-profits as well as a policy advisor to national business associations on topics ranging from energy policy to climate adaptation. Michael is a Northeastern University graduate with degrees in international affairs and environmental studies, course work at the University of Edinburgh’s MSc Program in Environmental Protection and Management and Harvard Business Schools CORe Program.