We have a lot of expectations for 2021: resuming personal travel, hugging loved ones, and maybe even remembering what “real” clothes are. Our more determined and altruistic hope for 2021 is that climate change takes its rightful seat at the forefront of the national discussion.
Recent US leadership have removed the country from the headship position on advocating for climate change resolution. The incoming Biden-Harris Administration has set expectations high with their Climate Plan initiatives which are bound to impact organizations and communities at the industry and community levels. Not only does President-Elect Biden need to make up for “lost” time, but he will have to work convincingly on the international stage to regain our position as a leader in the global climate fight. Biden intends to immediately rejoin the Paris Agreement, invest more than $5 trillion into clean energy and environmental justice, and plans to have the US achieve a 100% clean energy economy with net-zero emissions no later than 2050. 1
Achieving “net zero” emissions in 30 years means any remaining greenhouse emissions would be offset by substructions through investments in forests and agriculture, or perhaps directly by removing carbon from the air. This is the kind of mission that will require national-level bipartisan commitment. According to a Princeton University study2, this effort is going to require 50 million electric vehicles, quadrupling the size of wind and solar in the US, and expanding the transmission infrastructure (utilizing the electrons provided by renewable energy) by 60%….at least. Some scientists say even if we do all of that, we will only be halfway to the global goal of limiting warming to 2°C above pre-industrial levels. Inevitably, regulations in line with these lofty green initiatives are coming from the incoming administration in order to motivate US companies and investors to reduce emissions in tangible ways.
What organizations can – and should – focus on now is what that means for them. The most common recommendation from scientists and policy experts is to focus on electrification. Anticipate a more visible electric system when it comes to (subterranean) power lines, solar panels, and wind turbines in the next few years. Expect marked increased investments in solar power, energy efficiency, and public transport. While organizations set internal long-term goals to “green” businesses and services, the solution meantime can be the quantification of current carbon emissions and to offset that emission in the form of donations to certified carbon sequestration projects3. Don’t just stop at your organization, however, but rather ensure your entire supply chain has prioritized green initiatives as well. Support businesses that have already made changes to be in line with supporting the environment4.
Without a doubt, our country is late to this game. France, Germany, the U.K., Japan, South Korea, and even China have already announced net zero targets. However, with the world’s largest economy now coming back on board, we hope other countries will be motivated to do the same. Worldwide dedication with cross-industry and sector foci will enable businesses to choose climate-positive services and prime the US industry for green export markets worldwide. This includes the security sector. While we continue to focus on risk for our clients and the community, we would be remiss if we didn’t factor climate change into our risk calculations. Although most security industry services are dependent on travel, colocation, and efficient crisis management mechanisms, those areas aren’t without greening opportunities. From renting lower emission vehicles for security patrols, to offsetting mileage traveled via plane, boat, or car through reforestation, steps that can be taken at the tactical level to ensure even the security sector is an active participant in the effort to tackle climate change.
Returning the U.S. to a visible leadership position will entail deep engagement, highlighting the palpable actions happening across the country, and re-building confidence in our dedication and ability to deliver environmentally focused results long-term. We all know intrinsically this is going to take a coordinated effort, but the incoming administration will add to that pressure on a more time-sensitive scale. See the writing on the wall – both with the upcoming Inauguration, but also with what the world needs from us. It’s not too late for everyone to do their part.
To see in more detail how we have jump started our own initiative at Concentric Advisors, check out our Green Security page.