Small Business and Climate Change

Fair warning, some of you might not find this blog as entertaining as the last one – you know the one with Yasmine Bleeth in a red bathing suit, but for those of you concerned about climate change please read on.

I just finished reading Beyond Politics: The Private Governance Response to Climate Change (quick disclaimer: the link to Amazon is not a suggestion that you purchase the book there, I just needed a link to the book). Now trust me, this is not lite reading, but it is well worth the effort.  The crux of the book is pretty straight forward: climate change is real and caused by human action (and inaction), political leaders (at least the current ones in the United States) will not be leading the efforts to address climate change, and while private sector responses to climate change will not address the problem, they may give us time to get our current political leaders on board or to get new political leadership.  While others may find one or more of these premises controversial, frankly I did not, and more importantly, rather than just stating the problem, Beyond Politics took the time to address both the role the private sector can play in addressing climate change and the barriers to effectuating a private sector response.

Frankly, Pet Camp has been dealing with these issue since 2001. In 2001, when political leaders in Washington, D.C., argued for increased oil drilling in Alaska to address California’s then energy crisis (a crisis it turned out was caused by corporate greed in Texas and clearly not addressable by starting to drill for oil that would not come to market for decades), Pet Camp began to think about what we could do to address the issue.  I wish I could say that we’ve had universal success in addressing Pet Camp’s contribution to Green House Gases (GHG), but sadly we are still a producer, though a lot less than we used to be.  We’ve added solar panels for electricity and solar thermal panels for hot water, installed two Big Ass fans (officially known as High Volume Low Speed Fans), and changed our major electrical equipment to 3-phase 240 from traditional single phase 112, but we know that there’s more to be done; we just don’t know what!

Beyond Politics does an excellent job of identifying the barriers to the private sector response to climate change and the role big business and homeowners can and do play in addressing climate change. However, the book did not go far enough in addressing the barriers faced by small business trying to do the right thing.  Unlike big businesses (which have the resources that can be dedicated to reducing their own GHG emissions or have the purchasing power to force suppliers to do so) or homeowners that can replicate steps taken at other homes in terms of weather proofing, appliance upgrading etc., small businesses both lack the resources of big businesses and are often disparate enough that replicating what was done elsewhere may not work.

I reached out to Michael Vandenberg, one of the authors, and asked for some suggestions on how small businesses could do more.  Michael graciously took the time to get back to me and noted:

“Small businesses lack the capital, staffing, and information necessary to make many types of improvements to energy efficiency and to take other carbon-reducing steps. Given the large potential of the small business sector, a timely first step would be for philanthropists, advocacy groups and small business trade associations to develop an initiative that helps small businesses save money and reduce emissions.  The initiative could include a targeted green revolving fund or green bonds to address capital constraints, privately subsidized information initiatives on energy efficiency to address staffing constraints, advocacy campaigns by NGOs to encourage businesses to participate, and certification, labeling or other programs to recognize those who have acted.”

We could not agree more!  We want to do more to protect the environment and mitigate climate change, but we need the assistance of those with more expertise, more time, and certainly more money to help us do so.  So, if you’re one of those who Michael suggests are in a position to help small businesses fight climate change, please reach out to us.  Pet Camp has a proven record of taking steps to reduce our contribution to climate change and we are ready to do more.

Thanks for reading and thanks for helping us combat climate change.