Small Businesses Unite to Address Climate Change
CABA’s Executive Director Michael Green Leads the Way
Members of CABA with Michael Green (center).
A nonprofit organization in Massachusetts is evolving the local business landscape to be unified on the path to sustainability. Climate Action Business Association (CABA) organizes local business leaders to be effective policy advocates for climate change through reducing their carbon footprint, understanding the political landscape and building a community of business leaders with shared values across industry lines and business size. The organization was founded by Susan Labandibar, president of Tech Networks of Boston, who felt limited as a small business owner in her ability to take action on environmental issues. “CABA began with just five businesses, which grew to a dozen, to 30, to 70 and continues to grow beyond our greatest expectations each year,” says Michael Green, the organization’s executive director. The association has gone from being an unknown entity in state policy to a strong and trusted voice for local businesses throughout Massachusetts.
CEOs and decision makers are increasingly interested in becoming active, progressive community leaders and joining forces with others who care about climate change. CABA equips companies with resources and tools, including their latest web app, bSPaRK, that allows them to look at waste, water, transportation and other environmental factors using normalized metrics. “This sustainability tool helps business owners understand more about their carbon footprint, set goals and track progress towards those goals,” says Green. It allows management and employees to become less carbon intensive.” bSPaRK also is equipped with a carbon pricing calculator which allows businesses to stay a step ahead of future carbon-pricing policy. With policies being introduced in states across the country, CABA aims to give businesses a head start in transitioning to less carbon intensive operations.
Political advocacy is another area that CABA emphasizes, and it does everything from offering insight to creating legislation to organizing opportunities for its members to meet with political leadership. The policy team prepares bill briefs, builds campaigns and coordinates dialogue with elected officials around the topics of renewable energy, new fossil fuel infrastructure opposition, climate resiliency and more.
As a former community organizer for multiple grassroot environmental organizations, Green has had the opportunity to travel the world working on campaigns and supporting action on climate change. He uses his experience in community organizing theory to open a meaningful and effective conversation with the private sector. Members are invited to attend a variety of events that bring the community together to share best practices, get to know each other and contribute directly at policy meetings. These educational gatherings allow companies to gather pertinent information about key climate change issues.
A current program CABA is working on is called Businesses Acting on Rising Seas (BARS). Through this project, representatives have already gone door to door to more than 500 local businesses to talk about rising sea levels, extreme weather and the need to make businesses more resilient. “Quite often small companies in New England hear about nor’easters on the news and worry about the effects of winter storms on their business,” says Green. “The average downtime for a small business can cost several thousand dollars a day. Not only are customers and employees not able to reach the business, but sometimes product can be damaged, spoil and further compound the challenges faced.”
BARS orients companies to assess risk, make sure products are secure and know which insurance plans to use in the case of flooding or other damage. The program has had ongoing success in first and second-generation neighborhoods which caught the attention of President Barack Obama, who invited Green to The White House this past July as a recipient of the Champion of Change Award.
“We are at a pivotal point in time,” says Green. “We need to start shifting and transitioning now. Many of the environmental innovations we see taking place are bringing a lot of hope to solve the greatest challenge to mankind.” He says the best thing that the public can do is to start talking to local businesses and tell them that climate change is a serious issue to be concerned about, and to connect with CABA to gain the resources necessary to make significant changes.
“Individuals can help by supporting companies that care, shopping with values and paying attention,” says Green.
For more information, call 617-303- 0150 or visit CABAUS.org.