In much of America right now, it’s devastatingly hot. If this doesn’t terrify you, you’re not paying close enough attention. This is why we in the environmental community are doing the work we do, no matter how challenging. The situation is urgent.

But it is also the fourth of July, which, for our non-American readers, celebrates American independence. It’s a day famous for fireworks, parades, family gatherings, and barbecues.

So in the spirit of today’s holiday, the Instigator will take on a lighter topic and suggest a new tradition for us to embrace. …


Beef has made a lot of headlines over the past year. First slaughterhouses really struggled during the early days of COVID — they had shutdowns, slaughtered massive numbers of animals, and saw terrible health outcomes for their workers. More recently, supply chain and rising cost concerns, ransomware attacks, being removed from recipes and increased competition from meat alternatives have been in the news.

It might seem as though change is afoot when it comes to meat consumption. But to me, this is misleading. It’s not even the animal-related conversation that I think we should be having.It might seem as though…


Build More Capacity to Guide the Private Sector

Free Advice

I remember back when I ran a big NGO. We got so much unsolicited advice. Much more than we wanted, needed or asked for. I don’t want to be snarky about this. Most of our self-appointed advisors were well-intentioned and very good people. Many were also generous supporters. And they were all trying to help.

But most of their advice was just not very good:

  • There are too many NGOs. Why don’t you merge?
  • NGOs spend too much money on overhead. …

The Investment Worth Making

There’s remarkable momentum when it comes to business getting involved in tackling environmental issues. It, therefore, feels like an opportune moment to step back and assess where we are and how we got here. Environmentalists are good at many things, but taking a victory lap usually isn’t one of them. We’re so focused on addressing the enormous challenges ahead, we sometimes forget to consider how far we’ve come. For private sector-led environmental problem solving, I have two key takeaways. …


Here’s what’s missing from the picture.

Remember when President Trump and team talked regularly about “Infrastructure Week?” Alas, it never came to pass. Instead, the notion became a running gag. Too bad. It was one of Trump’s better ideas.

Fast forward to today, and it looks like infrastructure’s moment has finally arrived. Spurred by President Biden’s big proposal, Democrats and Republicans have even engaged in a somewhat substantive debate about what constitutes proper infrastructure. Further, a big infrastructure bill will likely pass soon. This is real progress.

But one thing is mostly missing from the conversation.

Nature.

As our readers…


Leaders Should Seize Leadership Opportunities

Last month’s changes to Georgia’s voting laws — making it tougher for citizens to exercise their constitutional right to vote — caused a (well deserved) outcry, including from corporate leaders. But what seemed to amplify and even protract the attention was Senator Mitch McConnell’s ensuant admonition of CEOS to “stay out of politics.”

The backlash came fast and furious. It ran the gamut of calling McConnell a hypocrite to justifying the need for corporations to fill governmental voids in upholding our democracy.

Since I regularly address CEOs and corporate leadership, I thought I’d throw my…


Make it Climate-Radical, Business-Friendly, Socially Just, and Fully Transparent.

The piece below is co-authored by my friend Peter Ebsen. Peter and I recently put forth this submission to the Science-Based Targets Initiative (SBTi). We admire the SBTi, and we share their goal of “driving ambitious corporate climate action.” To that end, we see room for improvement in their guidelines to corporations on reaching net-zero targets.

The SBTi submission inspired us to co-author a two-part series exploring some of the thoughts and ideas behind our suggestions to SBTi. In short, we suggest shortening timeframes for corporate net-zero commitments, treating carbon removal…


Here’s What Private Sector Leadership Looks Like to Me

Last Wednesday, the Council on Foreign Relations invited me to do a live interview with Larry Fink as part of their 2-day virtual symposium, “Investing in a Sustainable Future.” What a privilege. I’ve admired Larry for a long time, and I’ve always considered him to be a visionary thinker and an inspiring business leader.

As I wrote several weeks ago, I was particularly impressed with Larry’s most recent letter to CEOs and thought it was a clear shot across the bow for companies to get in line with net-zero climate goals. Regular readers of The Instigator know that I favor…


One Thing I loved, and One I Did Not.

A couple of weeks ago, I took some time off. A vacation of sorts. For me that basically meant exercising in the morning and then spending the day alternating between work and sports — outdoors as much as possible. Luckily for me, Bill Gates’s much anticipated How To Avoid A Climate Disaster had just come out, and I was anxious to dig in.

Bill Gates is an admirable thinker, and the clarity of his mind comes across in the book. He approaches the issues like an engineer — methodical, working his way through each argument, breaking it down, and showing…


How to Protect 30% of the Planet and Achieve Other Lofty Goals

In 2011, Colombia had greater rainfall in one month than it typically has in an entire year. The ensuant flooding from the Magdalena and Cauca rivers caused such horrific loss of life and damage that the government acted immediately to avoid a repeat occurrence. It earmarked a huge sum of money for “infrastructure investment” and invited ideas on how to spend it from a wide array of leaders, including me.

I flew down to meet the Minister of the Environment, prepared for an uphill battle as I sought to convince him of nature-based solutions. The first thing I noticed when…

Mark Tercek

Former CEO of The Nature Conservancy CEO. “Nature’s Fortune” author. Family man, yogi, ice climber, vegan.

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