On Earth Day, we celebrate the beauty of our planet and highlight the need to preserve and protect it. Manufacturers hope Earth Day can also be an occasion to embrace cooperative solutions to the global environmental challenges we all face and to acknowledge the critical role our industry will play.
All too often discussions about the future of our planet overlook the significant strides that manufacturers have made to reduce their environmental impact, instead characterizing them as impediments to climate change solutions rather than as partners. The reality is that we are all in this together and only by working side-by-side to tackle climate change can we make a real difference.
Ross Eisenberg, Vice President for Energy and Resources Policy at the National Association of Manufacturers, detailed some of the solutions manufacturers are providing in a recent Politico Magazine op-ed. They include scaling up the adoption of energy- and water-efficient products and technologies; prioritizing innovation; promoting carbon capture, utilization and storage; phasing down hydrofluorocarbons; fostering more public-private partnerships; and re-engaging the international community to speed international cooperation.
During a recent congressional hearing, local leaders from Midland, Texas, Columbia, South Carolina, and Salt Lake City, Utah, also weighed in on successful environmental programs designed to reduce emissions like the energy benchmarking of buildings, electrification of the transportation sector and upgrading building infrastructure.
Notably, none of those local officials mentioned litigation as an effective means of addressing climate change. Perhaps that’s because targeting manufacturers with lawsuits that label them a public nuisance will not achieve the ultimate goal of preserving our planet. Instead, they will only divert time and resources away from pursuing solutions that will actually move the needle.
Manufacturers believe we should act on climate change and have been proactively working to create a sustainable environment not only for their businesses but for all of us. Our sector has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 10 percent over the past decade (while our value to the economy has gone up by 19 percent) and has also made dramatic reductions for nearly every air pollutant regulated by the EPA. We’ve been able to accomplish this achievement by actively pioneering and implementing new emissions technologies and strategies.
When it comes to climate change, we are all in this together. On Earth Day, let’s stop looking backward and start moving forward to work collaboratively on substantive policies. Only then will we have any real impact.