At Ben & Jerry’s, we have our very own group of superheroes - our Board of Directors! These guys work hard to guard our sacred social mission, ensure our ice cream is as euphoric as possible, and to make a difference in the world!
This month we’re introducing you to the first of our superstars, Annie Leonard. Annie, an environmental activist, is not only a member of our board, but also the Executive Director of Greenpeace USA. Read on to hear her thoughts on climate change and find out just what lead her to Ben & Jerry’s!
How did you end up on the Ben & Jerry’s BOD?
I've always admired Ben & Jerry's creative and innovative ways of leveraging a business for social good. I knew two board members - Jeff Furman and Anuradha Mittal - from years of working on the same environmental and social justice issues. When Jeff suggested I consider joining the board, I was thrilled to have a chance to work with the inspiring Ben & Jerry's community - and to eat a lot of ice cream!
What ice cream flavour would you describe yourself as and why?
That's a hard question! Maybe Coffee, Coffee, BuzzBuzzBuzz since I talk so fast, as anyone who saw Story of Stuff knows. Or maybe Save Our Swirled, since climate justice is what I focus on all day!
What’s on your climate radar at the moment?
The biggest thing in terms of climate right now is that it’s not just about climate anymore. For years, mostly scientists and environmental advocates were concerned about climate, and the discourse was mostly about technology and emissions. Today, the movement is bigger, broader, more diverse and stronger. It includes youth, Indigenous peoples, faith leaders, teachers, farmers, artists, social justice activists and more. We now see that we can't solve climate only by talking about climate… the problem - and the solutions - include almost every aspect of our economy and society. That may sound daunting, but actually it's an amazing opportunity to figure out how to rebuild our economy better this time! We know it’s possible to build an economy that’s powered by clean energy and is more sustainable, more equitable and much more fun than our current reliance on fossil fuels. It's a great opportunity to build a better world – but we must act quickly!
What role do you believe the EU play in the climate movement?
The EU has led the way on many environmental issues - I worked on toxic chemicals for years and I dream about the day the U.S. can finally adopt the legislation policies the EU has, such as REACH, ROHS and WEEE. Yes these laws aren't perfect, but they are gigantic steps in the right direction and are way ahead of where my country is on chemical policy. I hope the EU will continue to lead in this way to show the rest of the world what's possible.
What do you hope to see happening in the climate space in 2016?
All of us concerned about climate need to continue with the momentum of the Paris COP and keep building on it to turn it into real change. That means more pressure on leaders to lead, more ambitious innovation in business, and more loud protest from civil society. And above all, it means we have to build the movement to keep oil in the ground! We can't keep mining, drilling and burning and expect to stay within the 1.5 degree increase that science shows.
The first rule when you find yourself in a hole is to stop digging - so in terms of climate, the first rule should be: stop making it worse! That's why 'keep it in the ground' has become a rallying cry for those who care about the climate from the Amazon to the Arctic. We need to stop investing in fossil fuel projects and instead invest in a clean energy future!