For many in the environmental community it was stunning news when President Trump announced his intentions to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Accords. Indeed, Americans of all stripes -- and nation’s around the globe --were incredulous. How could the USA -- the worlds’ leader in practically everything -- shrug its collective shoulders and walk away from its leadership role in helping to solve one of the world’s biggest problems?
Well it turns out we’re not. Or, we’re not entirely.
Yes, Trump and the US Congress do seem intent on unwinding anything -- seemingly good or bad – that has any connection to any previous administrations. And frustratingly, that does include withdrawing the US from the Paris Climate Accords.
But what we’ve seen since Trump’s announcement is that the American public, our institutions and our nations’ businesses continue to lead the way in protecting the environment, our planet and our future.
This past weeks unhinged press conference by President Trump aside, perhaps nothing better illustrates the utter disconnect between “Washington” and the rest of the country than the cascading response since the President’s pull out from Paris.
In the immediate aftermath of Trump’s announcement, we saw literally thousands of colleges and universities stand up and declare “We’re Still In”. They joined with Mayors and City Councilors from thousands of cities and towns from coast to coast in committing their communities to upholding the tenants of the Climate Accords. And not to be outdone, even state Governors declared that if the United States under President Trump won’t lead on a federal level, then they would lead on a statewide level.
It’s been dramatic and heartening. But truthfully, it’s been also somewhat easy to dismiss. After all, colleges and universities and mayors and city councilors have already been knee deep into climate strategies and climate solutions. Indeed, my non-profit SmartPower has worked with countless communities coast-to-coast helping them become leaders in clean energy and energy efficiency solutions.
Mayors and local leaders and colleges and universities - they know the realities on the ground and so it’s unlikely that they were simply going to throw up their hands and walk away no matter what President Trump decided on Paris.
But the entire game changed dramatically just recently when one of the most prestigious blue chip banks in the world made a major announcement that is sure to set the pace for our climate solutions from Wall Street to Main Street.
JPMorgan Chase announced that it is going to be 100% reliant on Clean Renewable energy for all of its global energy needs by 2020.
Let that sink in for a moment.
JPMorgan Chase – one of the nations’ biggest banks is going 100% renewable.
When we started SmartPower 15 years ago this summer, we could only dream of a headline like that.
Indeed, our goal really has been to see renewable energy and energy efficiency go “mainstream”. And mainstream means having major companies such as JPMorgan Chase embrace clean energy and energy efficiency not simply to “look good”, but because it’s “smart business”.
And with JPMorgan Chase’ announcement, it’s clear that climate solutions, clean energy and energy efficiency technologies are no longer just “feel good” opportunities. With players like JPMorgan Chase leading the charge, clean energy, energy efficiency and climate solutions have made it, shall we say, “bigly”.
Consider that JPMorgan Chase owns over 5,500 properties in more than 60 countries – and realize how huge that is: that’s 75 million square feet of space. For those of you calculating environmental footprints – that’s one huge green footprint.
And they’re not stopping there.
JPMorgan Chase is also opening up $200 billion in clean financing through 2025. This will help scale the impact of sustainability efforts among its approximately 22,000 corporate and investor clients in the U.S. and across the world. Or, put another way, with their investments, they will help the clean energy boom continue to grow not just through their example, but with their investments as well.
Because of JPMorgan Chase’ commitment, we’ll be seeing huge changes practically in all our communities starting almost right away. For example, they’ll be creating on-site solar power generation for up to 1,400 bank-owned retail and 40 commercial buildings globally while installing new lighting at about 4,500 Chase branches. With that many branches, chances are, your local branch will be leading the way – and helping your community.
And they’ll be signing Power Purchase Agreements (PPA’s) in various markets with wind and solar producers to offset their traditional power consumption by 40%. In fact, the PPA they signed with the Buckthorn Wind Farm in Erath County, Texas accounts for 13% of JPMorgan Chase’ overall consumption in the US.
And when JPMorgan Chase leads…others follow. So now it’s now just a matter of time before their competitors join them and soon all of Wall Street, all of New York and the entire nation.
Again, the disconnect between what Washington thinks and what the country wants – and where the country is going -- is staggering. And a perfect case in point is the withdrawal from Paris.
Yes, we’ll always have Paris. Thanks to the leadership from companies like JPMorgan Chase