Seeking Climate Change Solutions

How do you solve a problem like climate change?

As individuals, there may not be a lot we can do. Even if a bunch of us got rid of our cars, turned off our electronics, and banished all plastics from our lives, we wouldn’t make a dent in what needs to be done to reverse the warming that results in such chaos for our planet. Sea levels would continue to rise. Storms would continue to worsen. Species would continue to go extinct.

Clearly, we need a plan that goes beyond the personal to the political, yes, but also, to changing how we get, distribute, and use energy. We may be encouraged by the Paris Climate Change Agreement, or discouraged that it doesn’t go far enough fast enough. But I sense that something is slowly shifting in our human consciousness. And that may make a difference.

This morning, I appeared at a Westar stockholders’ meeting to introduce a shareholder’s resolution asking Westar to report how the company is adapting its business model in ways that ultimately, would reduce greenhouse gas emissions. I appeared on behalf of the New York State Common Retirement Fund, because the New York Comptroller has frequently worked with the Unitarian Univeralist Association on stockholder activism on issues like climate change, GLBT rights, and other areas where we share common perspectives. I’ve presented similar resolutions at energy companies before.

It felt like change may be in the air. The shareholder resolution, though not recommended by the Board, received a 23% positive vote. That’s almost a quarter of shareholders voting for it, despite the Board’s negative recommendation. What’s more, a significant chunk of the CEO’s report centered on renewable energy. Not only is this a regulatory concern, and a personal ethical concern for many investors, it’s fast becoming more of a business interest, as the old way of doing things crumbles beneath us. Coal power plants, for example, make less and less sense from any perspective.

So, the struggle goes on in every realm possible: the small changes we can make in our individual lives, the effort to elect politicians at all levels who understand the stakes, and confronting government and business with the needs.

Who knows? Maybe, somehow, we can solve this one, after all, or at least manage it.

In faith and freedom,

Jonalu

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