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In an op-ed piece published in the New York Times, Walmart criticizes the Trump administration's decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Accord as "deeply unfortunate," and says that it will not affect its commitment to the goals of the climate change agreement.

"Walmart is one of over 3,800 American businesses, states, cities and other entities that have joined together in the coalition We Are Still In to continue our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement," the piece says. "Together, these entities represent nearly 70 percent of the country’s gross domestic product and two-thirds of its population. If this group were a country, it would be the world’s second-largest economy — behind the United States but ahead of China."

The op-ed piece is co-written by Kathleen McLaughlin, executive vice president and chief sustainability officer of Walmart and president of the Walmart Foundation, and Andrew Steer, president/CEO of the World Resources Institute.

Some excerpts from the piece, which makes the business case for sticking with the accord:

• "The Trump administration’s announcement this week that it would follow through with its plan to officially withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement is deeply unfortunate. Leaving the accord will hamper America’s economic competitiveness and put Americans and people around the world at greater risk for climate-related disasters."

• "Why is the Paris Agreement so important? Climate change is a global challenge that requires a global response. Although the commitments are voluntary, the agreement sets a clear course toward a low-carbon future, with nearly 200 countries working together and playing by the same rules. The Paris Agreement provides the context for national and global policies in areas like agriculture and energy, which have direct implications for businesses with customers and suppliers around the world."

• "According to the recent National Climate Assessment, by the end of the century, warming at the current trajectory would cost the American economy hundreds of billions of dollars from crop damage, lost labor and the consequences of extreme weather. Similarly, the National Bureau of Economic Research found that climate change could cost the United States 10.5 percent in real income by 2100.

"In addition, by backing away from the international climate pact, the United States will fail to fully seize the economic opportunities in the growing clean energy sector. At the same time, other countries — including the nation’s biggest economic competitors — are seizing the opportunities in wind, solar and low-carbon innovation and technology."

You can read the entire op-ed piece, which details some of Walmart's efforts in this area, here.
KC's View:
I'm sure there will be people who will read this as a political screed, which it is not … though there certainly is a political component to the argument. What this piece is, I think, is a reasoned, business-centric argument for why this stuff is incredibly important, why climate change is the greatest threat to the survival of the species, and why institutions - governments and companies - need to show leadership, not parochialism.

"Without a rapid reduction in global emissions, backed by strong government policies and business strategies, more people will be in harm’s way," the piece says. "Increasingly people recognize these risks and expect companies to be part of the solution."

Just a couple of days ago, National Geographic had a story that framed one part of the issue this way (and, if I'm honest, scared the hell out of me):

"…Even if the U.S. stayed in the agreement, finds new research published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Monday, there are long-tail, unavoidable consequences for the world’s coastlines. Even if all countries hit their Paris targets by 2030 and then stopped emitting carbon entirely, an unrealistic scenario but a useful thought experiment, the world’s oceans will still slosh higher. Under these idealistic conditions, by 2300 - about eight generations away - sea levels around the world will be about 3 feet higher than today, the scientists say.

"From the Paris Agreement period alone - between 2015, when the agreement was signed, and 2030, when the stated commitments end - the world will have caused enough warming to drive sea levels about 4.5 inches higher in the future. That’s just from that 15-year stretch.

"That doesn’t mean the situation is hopeless, the authors say: far from it. What it means is that decisions made today matter greatly. The quicker emissions drop to essentially zero, they found, the slower the ice will respond - giving coastal cities more time to prepare or move, and giving humans more time to devise solutions to the climate crisis."

The earth may survive all this, but people and many of the places they have built to live, may not. At least some of these people are Walmart customers, and at least some of those places are in communities where Walmart has stores.

Reason enough to show leadership, I think, and not to be guilty of epistemic closure.