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Bob Fisher

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Climate Change, Blue Jeans, and Jobs

Posted: 04/29/10 05:19 PM ET

Why would an apparel company care about climate policy? When you think about it, a changing climate actually has a direct impact on business. The apparel sector is fundamentally dependent on cotton, a crop that relies heavily on water and favorable growing conditions. Our changing climate is causing unprecedented drought in some regions and flooding in others. These extreme and variable weather patterns threaten our global supply chain and the cost of producing goods.

Although the cost and consequences of climate change impact much more than business results, I believe companies can make a difference. As an individual, I'm personally passionate about this subject, but as a Director on the Boards of Gap Inc. as well as the Natural Resources Defense Council and Conservation International, I see the powerful role business can play in the effort to pass comprehensive climate and energy legislation. Together with leading companies such as Nike, The North Face, eBay, Best Buy, Starbucks, and many others, Gap Inc. understands that placing limits on greenhouse gas emissions and building a new clean energy economy is good for business and great for American workers.

Increasingly, we have come to understand that climate change is a matter of social and human rights and not "just" an environmental issue. In truth, industrialized countries have placed the burden of climate disruption on billions of people who have not contributed to the problem. Gap Inc.'s longstanding commitment to the workers and communities where we source our raw materials is more than a fundamental value; it's a competitive advantage.

As a member of BICEP, Gap shares with other participating organizations a commitment to a sustainable planet. We believe in leading by example. Energy efficiency and waste reduction throughout our manufacturing process has helped the environment, improved our bottom line, and been a source of pride for our employees. But voluntary, piece-meal action by a strong cadre of consumer companies is no substitute for a national policy that levels the business playing field by imposing a uniform cost on carbon emissions across all sectors of the economy.

Our economic future depends upon a strong national climate change policy that will restore America's leadership, spur innovation in clean energy technology and put hundreds of thousands of people back to work in the process.

Consider this: Clean energy will be a dominant job creation industry of the 21st century and the countries that get this right will be rewarded with millions of jobs and trillions of dollars worth of exports for years to come.

America's greatest economic strength has always been innovation. But we have yet to unleash the full potential of our ingenuity when it comes to lowering carbon emissions, reducing our dependence on foreign oil and creating the clean energy technologies to make it happen. A smart national climate change policy that caps emissions and provides economic and tax incentives for energy efficiency and renewable power would turn the U.S. into the world leader in new clean energy technologies.

We are at a critical crossroads on climate change--the U.S. can lead the world and jumpstart our economy by spearheading the transition to a low-carbon global economy; or we can delay and fall further behind nations that already have cleaner, more efficient cars, and more established wind and solar power industries. The choice is clear: now is the time for dramatic action by Congress to not only stimulate investment in renewable energy sources and clean technology--but to put a limit and price on carbon pollution. Our future--and our blue jeans--depends on it.


Bob Fisher currently sits on Gap Inc.'s Board of Directors and is former CEO of the global apparel retailer. He also serves as a Director on the Boards of the NRDC and Conservation International. Gap Inc. is a leading global specialty retailer and a member of Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy (BICEP), a network of 17 leading consumer and technology companies coordinated by Ceres.