Glens Falls, NY, August 8, 2022 – With Congress poised to pass historic climate legislation, the United States will soon face the more difficult task of putting policy to work according to Tony DeFazio, founder of communications company Sustainable PR.
“Our politics loom so large that we sometimes think of passing legislation as an end state,” DeFazio said, “but, in reality, it’s just the beginning.”
DeFazio notes that the Inflation Reduction Act appears qualitatively different from previous efforts at climate remediation. “To date, U.S. policy has focused on punishing industries and individuals for doing the wrong thing, whereas this act rewards them in the form of tax credits for consumers and businesses who adopt more sustainable practices.”
This approach, DeFazio notes, mimics the emergence of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) standards and their integration into investment products. “Though the immediate effects of ESG practices seem limited, the long-term effects have massive potential because tying access to capital to sustainability, as well as other practices, is the one motivation that corporations readily understand.”
Moreover, he notes, an incentive-based approach offers a palpable defense against conservative resistance to climate policy. “It is much harder to work against incentives that deliver tangible results and savings than it is to attack policies that penalize corporations and individuals,” DeFazio said.
He added that conservative resistance to progressive climate policy is well organized, granular, and energetic. “The Republican Party has coalesced think tanks, advocacy groups, and state elected officials around the notion that climate change is not real, and their actions are not without consequence.” He cites a coordinated effort among state treasurers to cut ties with businesses that adopt climate policies, and that treasurers in about half of the United States are supportive of these efforts.
“I am not sure what these state treasurers tell their children and grandchildren about what they are doing at work, but I feel pretty confident it’s not the truth.”
DeFazio added that the political wrangling that led to the clearance for the bill, was predictable, but nonetheless heartbreaking. “COP26 in Glasgow came and went without any leadership, moral or otherwise, from the United States. While COP27 in Egypt will hopefully have the United States at the table with a demonstrable policy in place, we missed an important opportunity last year. And how many more of these opportunities will we get?”
DeFazio said he blames senators Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin for the United States’ lagging response.
Up until last month, Manchin was worried about the inflationary impacts of the bill. “With inflation lasting months or, worst case, years, versus climate change lasting the lifetimes of our children and grandchildren, it’s difficult to imagine how these legislators sleep at night.”
DeFazio said a politician worries about the next election, while a statesman or stateswoman worries about the next generation. “Clearly, we’re beset with politicians.”
Ultimately, Senator Sinema was won over by, among other things, saving hedge fund managers $14 billion in taxes. “As the net worth of the five wealthiest hedge fund managers is nearly $100 billion, and thousands of others with lesser nine-digit fortunes, her $14 billion demand seems ill-conceived at best, irresponsible at worst, and most likely pandering to special interests.”
DeFazio said that Ms. Sinema is, for good reason, also a fashion icon. “In the case of addressing climate change, she was all dressed up, but egregiously late to the party. I can only hope her arrival signals it’s a party worth attending.”
About Sustainable PR
Sustainable PR is a public relations agency, based in the Adirondack region of New York, that brings earned media expertise to green companies. Founded in 2020 by PR agency veteran Tony DeFazio, the agency builds public relations campaigns that help companies realize their sustainability commitments and take advantage of a growing sustainability market. For more information about the company’s mission and services, visit sustainablepr.com or call (484) 410-1354.