Climate Salon informs and inspires business leaders
By Pam Shaouy
Companies and industries thrive on stability and predictability. That’s why business leaders worry about climate change. They know it destabilizes the economic environment and disrupts business processes. Members of Congress care about the concerns of businesses because companies provide jobs, pay tax revenue and contribute to political campaigns. When businesses support climate solutions, politicians listen.
New York CCL volunteer Sidonie Ruban wanted to inspire the business leaders she knew to support climate solutions. She wanted a chance to show them why CCL’s Carbon Fee and Dividend is an economically viable and politically possible solution to start solving climate change. She decided to organize a “Climate Salon” event, inviting business leaders into her home to learn, connect, and get inspired.
In addition to being a CCL volunteer, Ruban is a Business Climate Leaders (BCL) ambassador. BCL is a Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL) action team that helps American business leaders shape federal climate policy. BCL engages large businesses at a sector and national level to get collective endorsements and lobbying support for carbon fee legislation. BCL also helps CCL chapters with outreach to local small and mid-sized businesses.
With help from BCL, Ruban hosted the first Climate Salon. She gathered friends and business decision makers in the private sector to discuss climate solutions and how businesses can have major impact in solving climate change. Ruban and her husband, Charles, hosted the Climate Salon in their home.
About 50 guests attended, including eight CEOs and eight C-suite executives. Their companies represented about 638,000 employees in total.
“The guests were mainly friends,” Ruban explains. “I thought about everyone I knew who could have impact within their organizations. People can be concerned about climate change, but not realize that just as politicians have a major role to play in enacting solutions, they, as business leaders and citizens, also have a role to play.”
Ruban carefully planned the event, with BCL providing support with collateral materials and connections. “I organized the evening around one hour of presentations and one hour of discussions,” she notes. “I also asked guests to fill out a feedback form so we could assess the impact of the event. And, of course, there was food and informal discussion—making for a very enjoyable and informative evening.”
The Climate Salon featured three speakers who Ruban either knew or was referred to by connections:
- Arnaud Brohé, CEO of CO2logic North America, a company that helps companies go carbon neutral. Brohé discussed solutions to reverse climate change.
- Satyajit Bose, Associate Director of Sustainability Management at Columbia University. Bose discussed the rationale for carbon pricing.
- Zinovia Spezakis, CFA, Citizens’ Climate Education Governing Board member. Spezakis discussed BCL.
Spezakis observes, “Many of the guests were very curious to understand the federal legislative process to enact CCL’s Carbon Fee and Dividend solution, and how companies participate with local CCL chapters to lobby their members of Congress.”
The exciting results
Ruban was amazed by the success of the Climate Salon. “Business leaders really do want to learn about climate solutions that work!” she exclaims. “We developed relationships that will support Congress in enacting climate solutions, and we’re looking forward to further discussing solving climate change at the next Climate Salon.”
One of the speakers, Arnaud Brohé, CEO of CO2Logic, agreed to advise an existing BCL company on how to track its own carbon footprint and understand the impact of a carbon tax on its business. That will help the company decide if it can support a carbon fee.
CO2Logic also joined BCL as a board member and signed a Carbon Fee and Dividend endorsement. CCL gained six new members. And two companies agreed to have their logos on the BCL website.
One hundred percent of the business leaders who filled out the questionnaire found the Climate Salon useful. Beyond that:
- 83% said their conviction about the importance of climate change was reinforced
- 74% understood the solutions to reverse climate change
- 95% were motivated to reduce their companies’ carbon emissions or educate employees and customers about climate solutions
Spezakis adds, “The guests also learned that CCL is a great organization to help them take climate action and speed the pace at which solutions are enacted.”
Host a Climate Salon
“Whether a business has two employees or thousands, it has a role to play in speeding the pace at which our members of Congress enact climate solutions,” Spezakis advises.
Are you ready to help business leaders in your network support carbon fee legislation? To learn how to host a Climate Salon, contact Sidonie Ruban at sidonie.ruban (at) gmail.com.