“There are two ways to face the future. One way is with apprehension; the other is with anticipation.” -- Jim Rohn
Note: This column is split into two installments; the second installment will appear next month.
by Robert Zulkoski, Social Entrepreneur, and Edward Cameron, Climate Advocate and Strategist Dirt farmers must anticipate everything about their crops before they even begin to sow their fields. They must consider the soil, seeds, compost, plowing, insects and weather before they decide what crop they’re going to plant. They must participate in preparing the soil, setting the seeds, fertilizing the sprouting plants, understanding and watching for insect infestation, and building and monitoring proper irrigation as they toil toward a bountiful and profitable harvest.
When you anticipate, you plan for a desired outcome then look for hidden hurdles and hitches that may stop you from reaching your goal. You participate by executing your plan with educated foresight and dealing with each issue as it arises.
Climate change IS the defining issue of the 21st century. A legacy of economic development dependent on the use of fossil fuels has changed the chemical composition of our atmosphere and the vast majority of scientists are anticipating substantial ecological and social harm. Bold collective participation by every community on the planet to rapidly reduce greenhouse gases is essential to avoid the worst consequences of climate change.
However, the foundations of a low carbon, climate resilient and inclusive world are being built all around us. Close to 200 countries have signed the historic Paris Agreement, committing to deep decarbonization well before the end of the century. The national climate action plans in these countries already include more than $13 trillion of clean energy investments over the next decade. When similar investments in transport, land use, urbanization and industrial processes are included this represents a massive economic stimulus and a significant step towards a 21st century economy. Similarly, more than 6,000 companies, representing $36 trillion or half the global economy, have also pledged to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. These companies are making decisions about their assets, liabilities, procurement, innovations and locations based on their need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and include climate risk as part of wider enterprise risk management systems.
Although the foundations have been built, the new climate economy continues to need engineers and architects. Who will build the solar panels and wind turbines to drive our clean energy future? Who will improve our land-use practices through sustainable agriculture, enhanced forest management, climate compatible livestock, and innovative approaches to soil fertility? Who will revolutionize our transport and mobility practices by decarbonizing the way we move people, products and services? Who will ensure that our utilities, homes, factories and infrastructure are low carbon and climate resilient? Who will benefit from the trillions of dollars of investment, the expansion of the tax base through new and high-paying jobs? Who will seize this moment to build a 21st century economy and society? Who will design the blueprints for government and the private sector to ensure their approaches to climate change go beyond managing climate risk and instead creatively explore ways to use this moment to build a better world? Who will provide the imagination that leads to a policy enabling environment capable of sending signals to the real economy as opposed to narrow thinking focused exclusively on energy policy?
In a prior column I suggested constructing a Vision for Vermont around people development. I further suggested we execute on that vision by building on the State’s global reputation for sustainability and social entrepreneurship. Next month we’re going to continue this column with a proposal. This proposal imagines Vermont and the wider New England region as a center in this global transformation and a prime beneficiary of the new climate economy. We offer a blueprint for a “Green Mountain Institute for Climate Justice” as a global center of excellence on climate justice.
Robert Zulkoski is one of the founders of Vermont Works Management Company (www.vermontworks.co), who’s objective is to deliver capital, mentorship, and connectivity to Vermont’s innovation ecosystem. Vermont Works’ goal is to ensure that Vermont is a full participant in the emerging, technology-enabled “new economy.” Vermont Works sees the dynamic changes sweeping the country and the globe as an achievable opportunity for Vermont to create large numbers of livable wage and sustainable jobs that help retain and attract talent and innovation, while staying true to the “Vermont Brand” and what it represents to the citizens of Vermont. Mr. Zulkoski is also a founding shareholder and Director of Impact Investment of The Conduit (www.theconduit.com), which connects thinkers, leaders, and innovators in social change, business, and the arts to create impact for the greater good.