Doing business with President Trump

Eco advocates are worried—with reason. But there is a way forward.

President-elect Donald Trump had made it known in his campaign that ecological protection will not be at the top of his to-do list. Today he already seems to be making good on those promises. But according to at least two Catholic eco-advocates, all is not lost. In fact, there is yet reason for hope and change.

Rob Sisson, a business author and Michigan Republican, is president of ConservAmerica, a group of republicans, conservatives, and independents that champion environmental causes. Sisson told Catholic Ecology that a businessman like Donald Trump would do well to listen to other business leaders who understand the threats of climate change and other eco issues.

“Forward-thinking business leaders recognize the threat to their bottom lines caused by climate change,” Sisson said, “and they recognize the business opportunities in innovating solutions to climate change impacts.”

Sisson added that Wall Street and corporate America are “far ahead of our government and elected leaders on climate change issues.”

Peter Arpin, a Rhode Island-based business innovator and international speaker on the morality and profitability of sustainable business, agrees with Sisson.

“The business world looks for ROI [return on investment],” Arpin told Catholic Ecology Wednesday. “Trump, as an example, can reopen coal mines, but nothing comes out if that form of energy is uncompetitive ... which is the case. And coal is getting less affordable each day.”

Arpin said that good business people “think long-term,” which is why they look for efficiency, which cuts spending and increases profit.

“We like renewable energy because if fixes our future costs of power. We like new tech that trims our overhead. We love collaboration. And we live to serve the needs of our customers.”

Arpin, who helped his family business, the Arpin Group, become a model of sustainable operations, said that in fact more customers are demanding sustainable supply chains, production practices, and waste streams.

Arpin posted Wednesday in his eco-business website about the election of Donald Trump. Arpin wrote,

What does [Trump’s victory] mean, then, to the business side of green? Do we stop migrating away from fossil fuel to clean energy? Do we stop being efficient? Do we stop inventing around the goals of doing more with less? Do we cease balancing the economy and environment?

Not a chance.

In fact we double down on our efforts and investments. We make the economics work on a global scale. Nothing turns back the tides of change when success is washing over us. Sure, there will be less support in Washington. President-elect Trump could use Ex-order to scale back many of President Obama's sustainable initiatives. Tax credits could get lost; tax levies, like a carbon fee, perhaps don't see the light of day. More hurdles could go up, and up quickly.

But, a transforming world, a historic industrial revolution speeding through energy into digital horizons is not a local, regional, even national event. Washington plays a limited role in pushing green.

Arpin wrote that he welcomes Trump to the world stage. “We encourage him to hire great people capable of making really good energy, waste, food, industrial production decisions.”

Sisson underscored Arpin’s point that there’s more to business than the old-world fossil fuel industry. “Corporate interests which profit from fossil fuels are a fraction of the business universe,” Sisson said.

Sisson also added that faith leaders will continue to make the case that Creation Care is a higher priority. “Sportsmen and women will continue to raise the alarm about our changing ecosystem and habitat loss. Millennials and moms will continue to push for environmental protection to insure future generations will enjoy a healthy climate, clean water, and clean air.”

And so the plan for eco-engagement under the new president is simple: Eco-business as usual, and advocacy, as usual. In fact, Pope Francis says exactly this in his eco-encyclical Laudato Si':

There are no uniform recipes, because each country or region has its own problems and limitations. It is also true that political realism may call for transitional measures and technologies, so long as these are accompanied by the gradual framing and acceptance of binding commitments. At the same time, on the national and local levels, much still needs to be done, such as promoting ways of conserving energy. These would include favouring forms of industrial production with maximum energy efficiency and diminished use of raw materials, removing from the market products which are less energy efficient or more polluting, improving transport systems, and encouraging the construction and repair of buildings aimed at reducing their energy consumption and levels of pollution. Political activity on the local level could also be directed to modifying consumption, developing an economy of waste disposal and recycling, protecting certain species and planning a diversified agriculture and the rotation of crops. Agriculture in poorer regions can be improved through investment in rural infrastructures, a better organization of local or national markets, systems of irrigation, and the development of techniques of sustainable agriculture. New forms of cooperation and community organization can be encouraged in order to defend the interests of small producers and preserve local ecosystems from destruction. Truly, much can be done!

Here, continuity is essential, because policies related to climate change and environmental protection cannot be altered with every change of government. Results take time and demand immediate outlays which may not produce tangible effects within any one government’s term. That is why, in the absence of pressure from the public and from civic institutions, political authorities will always be reluctant to intervene, all the more when urgent needs must be met. To take up these responsibilities and the costs they entail, politicians will inevitably clash with the mindset of short-term gain and results which dominates present-day economics and politics. But if they are courageous, they will attest to their God-given dignity and leave behind a testimony of selfless responsibility. (Laudato Si' 180-181)

And so let us pray and work together to continue the best in eco-protection from eight years of the Obama administration as we now encourage, demand, and pray for the best from President Donald Trump.

Photo: Flicker/Gage Skidmore

If you like Catholic Ecology,
you’ll love…

A Printer's Choice

The sci-fi novel with a Catholic twist.

A Printer's Choice

Learn more

About the Blog

Catholic Ecology posts my regular column in the Rhode Island Catholic, as well as scientific and theological commentary about the latest eco-news, both within and outside of the Catholic Church. What is contained herein is but one person's attempt to teach and defend the Church's teachings - ecological and otherwise. As such, I offer all contents of this blog for approval of the bishops of the Church. It is my hope that nothing herein will lead anyone astray from truth.