By: Eric Walberg
More Important than ever in the Post-Election World
The recent U.S. presidential election brings with it the likelihood of a rapid retreat from the global climate change leadership position advocated by the Obama administration. The heated rhetoric of the lengthy presidential campaign has exacerbated political and social polarization on a broad range of issues, climate change and energy issues being near the top of the list. What is the way forward? Science tells us that we have no time to wait to deal with climate change.
Manomet’s approach to engagement on climate issues is in many ways an antidote to the problems of our time. We have developed the ability to work across social and political boundaries, building productive relationships with a diverse set of stakeholders. We are often able to find alignment between environmental and fiscal concerns, allowing us to make progress on sustainability and climate change challenges in situations where progress cannot be achieved through adversarial relationships. At Manomet we understand that economic and environmental challenges must be addressed in concert with each other. We believe that our approach is scalable and has the potential to transform many sectors of the economy.
Our work in the forestry sector is illustrative of this approach. What are the motivations for forestry companies to engage with Manomet on the challenges of climate change?
Moral: Most foresters and forestry companies care a great deal about the ramifications of their work. Not all initially understand the linkage between healthy forests and climate regulation, but once they do, it becomes an additional component of good stewardship.
- Climate change presents a mix of fiscal risk and opportunity to the companies we engage with. Climate change is already increasing forest mortality in some regions, while presenting opportunities for enhanced growth rates in others.
- International climate policy is influencing the economic environment that companies operate in. The Paris Climate Agreement creates the framework for new international carbon markets and the recently signed Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation creates a new market for carbon offsets that is estimated to be in the range of $5 to $24 billion annually by 2035.
These motivations for engagement are counterbalanced by two main impediments, the social/political polarization referenced in the introduction and the complexity of the science associated with natural system response to climate change. Manomet addresses both of these impediments directly. First, we build relationships with our project partners based on trust and mutual respect. We listen and we understand the interests, motivations, and limitations surrounding engagement on climate issues. Second, we are absolutely solid on the science and clearly differentiate those areas where the science is settled from those areas that are still evolving. This approach allows us to progress from initial engagement to a meaningful discussion of climate impacts and management response.
John Hagan and I were fortunate enough to have a full house at our presentation on this approach titled Activating Interested Bystanders to Help Solve Climate Change on November 16th at the Concord Center for the Visual Arts. Thanks to all that attended and contributed to the conversation. Your thoughtful comments and encouragement give me hope that by working together we can continue to make meaningful progress in addressing climate change.