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Opinion

How Corporate America Can Support the Paris Climate Deal

By Tensie Whelan

Tensie Whelan_article

Now, more than ever, marks a pivotal time for countries and companies to work together to reduce risk and increase the value to business and society at large.

Now that the landmark accord is signed, what’s next?

Today not only marks Earth Day, but also an environmental milestone in the movement to tackle the increasing threat of climate change. The signing of the landmark Paris Climate Accord, reached by 195 countries, is worthy of recognition, but there is a complex two-degree question that still remains: how do we reach our reduction goals, given our voracious appetite for energy, our emission-creating destruction of forests, and our enormous methane emissions?

As a first step, governments must put frameworks in place to level the playing field, provide incentives, improve regulatory guidance, set targets and track progress. Then, the business sector can, and should, lead the way. Here’s why.

According to leading economist Michael Porter, in the U.S. business controls $20 trillion of revenues, followed by governments at $3 trillion and then civil society at $1 trillion. Business produces the majority of products and services that cause emissions through their production, transport, use and disposal. In fact, everything produced today has a carbon footprint. Take the example of deforestation (often for commodities such as lumber, soy, ranching and palm oil), which causes up to 17% of global emissions.However, much of our emissions are high because we have never had to design for or manage them.

Read the full article as published in Fortune.
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Tensie Whelan is a Clinical Professor of Business and Society and Director of the Center for Sustainable Business.