Former Vice President Al Gore has signed on with a new effort to educate corporate board members on the urgency of the climate crisis.
Gore’s organization the Climate Reality Project is partnering with WeDontHaveTime.org in training hundreds of corporate board members in Europe and the U.S. to become more "climate literate," according to a press release.
Gore is also planning to lead similar training sessions in Latin America.
Ingmar Rentzhog, the CEO of the Swedish climate social network We Don’t Have Time, said that a 2019 study conducted by New York University’s Stern Center for Sustainable Business made clear the need to educate corporate board members on how climate change is poised to affect business.
“It found only 0.2 percent of board members on Fortune 100 companies had ‘climate expertise’ despite climate change becoming a defining force in the future success or failure of business worldwide,” said Rentzhog.
The response to the training sessions has been positive so far, Rentzhog told Yahoo News, even though they serve as a wake-up call for many who attend.
“Most board members are aware of the climate crisis today, but they still don’t know the urgency and how fast the problem is moving, and how quickly all solutions are developing,” he said. “I will say it usually creates a shock for them.”
On Tuesday the International Energy Agency, which advises businesses on energy issues, released a grim report warning that keeping global temperatures from rising above 1.5 degrees Celsius over preindustrial levels would require an immediate “total transformation” of the world’s economic infrastructure.
Gore, whose 2006 documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” drew global attention to climate change, applauded the IEA for its report.
Gore’s climate activism made him a target for conservatives who either don’t believe that climate change represents a serious threat to life on earth or believe the U.S. should not take action unless countries like China, the leading producer of greenhouse gases, follow suit.
Last week, however, the Environmental Protection Agency released a report, blocked during the Trump administration, showing that the damaging effects of climate change had already begun in the United States.
“We want to reach people in every corner of this country because there is no small town, big city or rural community that’s unaffected by the climate crisis,” EPA Administrator Michael Regan told reporters upon the release of the report. “Americans are seeing and feeling the impacts up close with increasing regularity.”
Gore’s message to business leaders, Rentzhog told Yahoo News, is just one more step in what promises to be a decades-long fight to combat rising global temperatures.
“I would say that Gore is very good at communicating the climate crisis with facts and emotions. That works very well for corporate people. I will absolutely give him credit for that,” Rentzhog said. “When I met Al Gore the first time, I was myself working in the finance industry. I don’t do that anymore, partly because of him. I have chosen to dedicate all my time to fight the climate crisis and inspire others within the business sector to do the same.”
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