Honorary Doctor of Laws
Environmentalists have tools: Lawsuits. Protests. PR campaigns.
But your preferred tools include science, markets, persuasion—and profits. When you convert dumpers and dischargers into conservationists, you do it by addressing their age-old question:
What’s in it for me?
You believe that if all we do is enact rules in Congress and enforce them in court, we’ve failed to entice corporate polluters beyond mere compliance.
So you point those polluters down the path to profit, encouraging them to innovate in ways that will both protect the planet and make money.
You negotiate. Sometimes, to be sure, you strike a deal without getting everything you want. But, “we’re all about winning,” you once told a reporter. “If we can’t win everything, we work to win as much as we can.”
You’ve led the Environmental Defense Fund into deals with FedEx, McDonald’s and Walmart. In January, you persuaded one of the world’s top dairy companies to cut cows’ heat-trapping methane output by 30 percent in seven years.
And you advocate. Among your earliest successes on the national and world stages: cap-and-trade systems designed to protect the ozone layer, curtail acid rain and begin to address greenhouse gas emissions.
There were, especially at first, critics of your pivot away from a “just sue ’em” approach to environmentalism. But your strategy has steadily gained adherents. Since you took charge at EDF in 1984, membership has ballooned from 40,000 to more than 3 million.
More importantly, CEOs have learned to regard you less as a bogeyman and more as a point man for both planet and profit.
I hereby declare you recipient of the honorary degree Doctor of Laws, entitled to all the rights, honors and privileges appertaining thereto.
June 4, 2023