Biden advisor Ali Zaidi urges CEOs to ignore political backlash against climate action: ‘Be brave. Take risk.’

Good morning.

I wrote earlier this week about the corporate pause in new climate commitments. But what’s equally interesting is that the companies that are committed remain fully committed. Fortune gathered about 40 executives from a group of those companies for dinner Wednesday evening in New York, in partnership with Deloitte (which sponsors this newsletter). Some excerpts: 

Deloitte believes that this climate crisis is the defining issue of our generation. And it is a business issue. Make no mistake. It is not just a moral issue. It’s going to be pervasive for decades to come.”

— Steven Goldbach, head of climate, sustainability and equity, Deloitte 

“Normally, we define success by winning vertically, or even inside the company, competing between functions and so on. We need to redefine success horizontally. I need to help my people work with our suppliers, with our customers, with our competitors, and do that with open books. We need to share economics to really build new models that will solve for this [sustainability] problem. That’s a huge, massive challenge. And I think we as leaders of companies cannot delegate this to anybody.”

— Ramon Laguarta, CEO, PepsiCo 

Fifteen percent of all greenhouse gases comes from heating and cooling of buildings…We have technology that exists today that can dramatically reduce that. And I’m not talking a little bit, I’m talking three to four times more efficient than conventional heating and cooling. What we need to do is deploy it and scale it. The biggest barrier we have is knowledge. People are not aware of what’s possible.” 

Dave Regnery, CEO, Trane Technologies 

I’m here to tell you that our greatest challenge is our greatest opportunity. We have the technologies. But technology is only as powerful as the people behind it. And now is the moment we have to realize that every job today is a climate job. All of us need to put our organizations to work, creating the job training programs that are going to bring people off the sidelines.”

— Barbara Humpton, CEO, Siemens USA 

Time is not on our side right now. The future is not about a political debate. It is about a race to actually resolve this human crisis…And doing good business is actually a good business.”

— Jesper Brodin, CEO, IKEA 

Also at the dinner was Ali Zaidi, national climate adviser to President Joe Biden. His advice to the CEOs was to ignore the political backlash against climate action: 

“We have to figure out how to detox and reduce the partisan flare up around some common-sense risk management stuff…Be brave. Take risk. We cannot afford to park the car for a year or two in what is the decisive decade for this problem.”

More news below. And read why Chevron CEO Mike Wirth believes oil prices will hit $100 a barrel here

Alan Murray