Pre-Launch: Can MBAs Reach Trump on Climate’s Urgency?

Climate business conference in Paris before COP21

Note to potential partners & supporters: This is one-week-old startup idea. Please read/think/talk to us/spread the word!

Strategic Background for Our Call to Action

Between now and Inauguration Day, and after, our top new decision-makers will include: Donald Trump; his transition team and incoming people; Republicans in the 115th Congress; large U.S. corporations and their business associations; and Republican/conservative think tanks.

They’ll tune out grassroots mobilizations and media saying “don’t walk away from climate” — though those messages have to keep coming. But some might be receptive to approaches from people they respect. Entrepreneur and climate hawk Felix Kramer has pinpointed institutions and constituencies that could step up. He started circulating two for discussion, activating some others as a result, and got a surprising big idea back.

  • Big Companies: Can December be an all-hands-on-deck moment when Fortune 500 companies and leading corporate figures who recognize the full scope of the climate challenge move beyond sustainability goals to organize a giant business effort to head off government abandonment of climate policies? Could the 365 (including 68 with revenues over $100 million/year) that just signed the Business Backs Low-Carbon USA letter from the climate talks in Morocco urging continuing support of the Paris Climate Agreements go much further?
  • The Armed Forces: 15 months ago the Department of Defense released Security Implications of Climate Change. Reports like these on how climate change factors into their future scenarios, strategic planning and operations didn’t make waves. A directive from the White House to produce a comprehensive statement aimed at the general public emphasizing that DOT sees climate change as world’s the greatest threat might reach more people on the legislative and executive sides.

Then Roger Shamel suggested a third one. He pointed to MBAs. Millions of alumni from over 700 b-schools are sprinkled throughout the country; 150,000 more enroll each year. H(e’s one of 83,000 Harvard Business alumni.) Roger and Felix began exploring how to enlist MBAs as key influencers to reach the incoming administration and galvanize those big companies. It matters that many on the transition team have MBAs. Donald Trump has an economics BA, and Donald, Junior and Ivanka have MBAs. (All three from Wharton.)

They’re proposing Emergency Climate Teach-Ins at business schools across the country, plus an Open Letter to the new administration, as described in the Call To Action below. They approached Liz Maw, Columbia and Haas MBA and CEO of Net Impact. She agreed to co-sign the Call. And balacing pressures at this time of year for MBA students with the transition timetable, they’re now exploring how Net Impact can encourage its more than 300 chapters and over 100,000 members to participate.

Felix and Roger (who’ve never met) don’t personally want or need to run this project — or get any credit. They just want it to happen! That’s possible only if MBA crowds see it as a good idea and jump in. Now they’re reaching out to enlist co-signers of the Call to Action and identify alumni and students to start organizing local efforts. They want this to go well beyond their Boston and Silicon Valley bases, and hope for a race to be first among b-schools.

If you can work on this, please contact fkramer@calcars.org and rshamel@gmail.com. And please forward the URL http://beyondcassandra.org/can-mbas-reach-trump-on-climate/ to people who will get what we’re trying to do.

We Seek Co-Signers for a Call to Action/Announcement

For publication at GreenBiz.com the long-established node focusing on business, technology and sustainability. This draft will be followed by a similar descriptive version for an OpEd in a mainstream business publication.

Call to Action Headline:

B-Schools can lead in answering the Q: “What will our country do on climate change in 2017?”

We invite the entire U.S. business school community to start a quick Keep Acting on Climate campaign. Why us? Many people in our communities recognize the urgency, risks, and opportunities of the climate challenge. Our institutions and people shape how societies use energy. Our expertise can identify policies and pathways to preserve a livable climate for all of us. And we know it will be catastrophic if we derail current plans to transition the global economy.

As influencers, we MBAs and our institutions are best positioned to explain why it’s “The End of Business As Usual” and why the U.S. can lead rather than get left behind by the rest of the world. Now, before the incoming administration takes office January 20, is our best chance to have an impact.

OPEN LETTER + TEACH-INS: This is for the entire community: B-school alumni in the working world, current students, faculty, administrators. They’ll all get involved, reaching out to their colleagues. In each campus, they’ll organize an Emergency Climate Teach-In on a Saturday or Sunday. They’ll invite community and business leaders to speak, undergraduates, and families to attend. Ideally, leading schools organizing events that happen before December 18 will get attention. Events will be streamed to alumni and the public and available for later viewing.

The overall effort will include a single Open Letter on Climate to the Trump Transition Team and Congress as a petition through the We The People White House system. Its focus: “What will our country do on climate change in 2017?” Local Teach-Ins will discuss and amplify that petition. Afterwards, working alumni will distribute it within their companies, business groups, and organizations.

Topics for the local Emergency Teach-Ins to discuss from global, national, and local perspectives, include:

  • the urgency and impact of climate change;
  • the economic and employment upsides of renewable technologies;
  • strategies for pricing carbon and allocating revenues;
  • how fast we can move to 100% renewables;
  • the U.S.role and leadership in global climate agreements;
  • the impact of the fossil fuel industry on public awareness and politics.

Starting points for resources can be the Risky Business national and regional reports, Carbon Tracker on the carbon bubble and stranded assets, the Carbon Tax Center on policy options and The Solutions Project with state and country-specific transition plans.

[Update at the time of our announcement] B-SCHOOL NAME(S) are starting to get the ball rolling. Others will pick up on that effort and share info. The rest is up to word of mouth, social media, and news reports. Are you in? Is your school getting started?