3D employees at the climate strike sept 20

On Friday, September 20th, I stood together with the youth climate strikers in Chicago. That day was likely the largest climate protest in world history. It was a historic moment in the youth climate strike movement as a groundswell of adults joined in solidarity to show their support and amplify the demand for transformative action to address the climate crisis. On a personal level, this timing offered a poignant reminder for me about the importance of intergenerational responsibility as we dropped off our youngest son at college.


Steve McDougal at the Chicago climate strike 

As I think about the legacy we will leave behind for the next generation, I am filled with both optimism and concern. That particular blend of emotions has been a common experience for me in my roles as a parent and as a business leader. My optimism comes from what I see in my role as CEO of 3Degrees, a renewable energy and climate specialist. 3Degrees is committed to urgent action on climate change — our entire organizational ecosystem is built around that. It is inspiring to see the passion that our employees bring to their daily work and their commitment to achieving impact through groundbreaking work for our clients. So that definitely fills up the optimism bucket.

But on the other hand, as the youth climate strikers relentlessly remind us, we are still not on the right path to avoid the worst effects of climate change. We need more action to combat climate change – more urgent action – action that spans individuals, businesses, and government leaders.

As Greta Thunberg bracingly reminded us during her speech at the UN Climate Action summit in New York on September 23, “If you choose to fail us we will never forgive you.” 

When I reflect on my experience at the Chicago climate strike, I am energized by the incredible leadership the next generation is demonstrating. At the same time, I am deeply concerned about the trajectory of our collective actions to protect the future world that they will inherit. Today’s youth is clear that the status quo is unacceptable. But the open question remains: what more will we – business leaders and government leaders – actually do to combat climate change? 

3Degrees employees stand in solidarity with the global youth climate movement. Some used paid volunteer time to join local climate events, while others stayed in the office and continued our daily work of helping clients take climate action.