Paris, the “City of Light,” is known for innovation, elegance and strength. Recent events have shown it in a different light, however, one of unification and resolve that has brought the world together to act on an issue that threatens us all.
For two weeks, the city will pave the way to unify countries in tackling another significant global issue, as world leaders work toward an international agreement to tackle climate change. All the major industrial nations have announced plans to reduce their own carbon pollution, including the U.S., China and India. More than 150 countries, representing 90 percent of global carbon emissions, have committed to clean up the pollution that drives extreme weather events, endangers our health and threatens future generations.
Countries aren’t the only ones taking action. Recently, more than 80 corporations — including Wal-Mart, Berkshire Hathaway, UPS and my company, ONE3LED — pledged to cut carbon pollution and support a strong outcome in Paris. Why? Because it’s good policy and it’s good business.
In the U.S. alone, renewable energy projects attracted $52 billion in investment in 2014. Wind and solar power companies employ nearly 250,000 Americans and offer jobs in all 50 states. Hundreds of thousands of people help design, manufacture or install energy-efficient appliances and building materials, saving families and businesses millions of dollars on energy bills each year.
My company has designed and installed energy efficient LED lighting solutions in communities across Missouri and the country. When you stop at a convenience store, you may be thinking only about what type of soda you want to buy, but what you may not realize is that the LED lights above you are reducing carbon emissions while providing the owner of the store substantial energy savings. Furthermore, our projects promote new business and job growth up and down the supply chain to a variety of companies. It’s good for the economy and good for the environment.
Strong federal policies would not only help reduce carbon emissions to address climate change — the new Clean Power Plan will reduce carbon emissions from the energy sector by 32 percent by 2030 — but would also promote innovation and job growth to help take our economy into the future because policies like these send a clear market signal that low-carbon energy and energy efficient products will flourish for years to come.
The Paris climate talks will amplify that signal, and as a representative of a small, but growing, Missouri company, I will attend the summit to carry this message from our state to world leaders.
Heading into the talks, the U.S. committed to cutting carbon pollution across our economy by 28 percent by 2025, and China vowed to reduce its carbon intensity by up to 65 percent and increase its non-fossil energy sources to 20 percent of total energy by 2030. Meeting these targets will require major investment in clean energy technologies. U.S. companies are already finding new ways to slash carbon pollution, and the innovations we develop here will help American entrepreneurs export to international markets.
Defusing the threat of climate change won’t be easy, but thankfully many countries — and companies — are committed to building a more vibrant and sustainable future.
Zach Tucker is vice president of ONE3LED (13led.net), a Missouri-based lighting company with offices in Kansas City and St. Louis. He is a member of E2-Environmental Entrepreneurs, a national, nonpartisan community of business leaders.