Making the Business Case for Climate Action, in Colorado and Beyond
Andrew Currie was fresh from selling his Internet software company when he looked around at the world and decided he wanted to do more to protect it.
The climate was changing. Wildlife was disappearing. Clean energy was still facing an uphill climb on an uneven playing field against fossil fuels.
And that was just what he could see happening in Colorado, the state he had come to love for its beauty and its promise and that he now called home.
Currie heard about a group of environmentally minded businesspeople 1,200 miles away in Silicon Valley who had banded together to bring the business case for smart environmental policies. They called their group Environmental Entrepreneurs. Immediately, he joined the organization as a member.
“E2 had me at hello,” he recalled. “Once I learned what it was and what it stood for, I thought, “I’m a business person. I care about the environment. I’m looking for ways to make a difference.”
In 2005, Currie accompanied E2’s founders to Washington, D.C., where they met with members of Congress to give their business perspective about how passing smart climate and clean energy policies could create jobs, drive economic growth — and protect our planet. He returned to Denver and started E2’s Rocky Mountains Chapter, encouraging fellow business leaders to join him and E2 in pushing for smart environmental policies at the state legislature, just as he had learned to do in Washington at the federal level.
This year, E2 is celebrating its 20th anniversary, beginning with a January 29 event in Denver featuring Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, Attorney General Phil Weiser, Natural Resources Defense Council President Gina McCarthy and Colorado members of E2 — including Andrew Currie.
Colorado is a fitting place to mark the start of E2’s 20th year of advocating for policies that are good for the economy and good for the environment.
Few states have changed quite like the Centennial State. Twenty years ago, Colorado was known for oil, gas, coal and snow skiing. Today, it’s also known as a national leader in clean energy, clean vehicles, environmental protection — and snow skiing.
In recent years, Colorado passed a mountain of policies that will dramatically expand energy efficiency, increase renewable energy and reduce auto emissions by making it easier for consumers to buy electric vehicles and other zero-emission automobiles.
In June 2019 alone, Gov. Polis signed seven climate and clean energy bills. He signed four electric vehicle bills. And he released a sweeping plan for the state to get 100 percent of its electricity from clean, renewable sources by 2040.
“If we want to preserve our way of life for future generations, then we all need to lead on clean air and climate,” Gov. Polis said in his Jan. 9 state of the state speech. “And in fact, the states and countries that embrace the renewable energy future will reap the economic rewards.”
At E2, we couldn’t have said it any better.
Every step of the way, E2 members have led the push for Colorado to lead on clean air and climate: Meeting regularly with legislators to describe the economic rewards that come with smart climate policies; testifying before state agencies for vehicle and energy efficiency standards; encouraging their fellow business leaders to also speak up for the good of Colorado’s environment and economy.
“Our members are tireless, and time and time again we’ve heard that without them and E2 making the business case for these policies, they would have had a hard time passing,” said Susan Nedell, a former small business owner who joined E2’s Rocky Mountains chapter as a member nearly a decade ago. Today, Nedell is a full-time E2 staffer who oversees the organization’s Mountain West Chapter — the successor to the Rockies Chapter as it has continued to grow geographically and in membership.
The E2 chapter Currie started now stretches from Colorado to Nevada. There were 10 E2 members when the Rockies chapter began; today there are nearly 275 E2 members and supporters in the Mountain West chapter.
Like Currie, the one thing these businesspeople have in common is the same thing that prompted E2 founders to start the organization in 2000: The realization that the economy and the environment are not at odds, but in fact depend on one another.
“To have this still going, to have it larger, to have it professionally led and still a force for good — that’s very gratifying,” Currie said. “When you go to the legislature today, when you talk to lawmakers and others, they know who E2 is — and they know what we stand for.”