Environmentalists may soon find a powerful ally in big business. Some of the United States’ top corporations are now rallying together in support of climate and energy reform, after finally realizing the severity of climate change and the negative effects of global warming on our society. Several Fortune 500 companies, including GE, Johnson & Johnson, HP, eBay, and the Gap, have joined together to form two core coalitions. The groups—armed with million dollar advertising budgets—plan to nudge Washington toward the passing of comprehensive climate change legislation. Participating business executives claim that “many businesses, and the overall economy, would eventually benefit from the new law.”
This week, an assemblage of over 150 entrepreneurs, investors, manufacturers, and energy providers—under the banner of the We Can Lead business group—will march to Capitol Hill to show their support for energy legislation such as this year’s American Clean Energy and Security Act. The attendees will receive media training, go to policy briefings, and have the opportunity to meet and greet with key policy makers. The main message for the event? A climate bill is good for the earth, AND good for business.
Contrary to popular belief, not all businesses are alarmed by the alleged high costs of a new climate bill. Some 28 companies and green groups, including United Technologies and the Nature Conservatory, are paying a pretty penny in advertising to publicly voice their support of energy reform. The seven-figure campaign will be launched this Tuesday and, hopefully, other companies will take note and realize that there aren’t sufficient financial reasons to fear a climate bill.
Exelon Corp. is one such company participating in both the advocacy events on Capitol Hill and the allied advertising campaign. As the largest nuclear power company in the nation, Exelon made waves earlier this month when the company left the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The company claims the two bodies simply did not see eye-to-eye on climate change issues. Exelon is not alone in its flight from the Chamber. California’s PG&E Corp. and New Mexico’s PNM Resources also announced plans last week to disband from the national business alliance. Most recently, Apple pulled out and Nike relinquished its spot on the group’s board of directors. The latter also claims its views on climate change differ drastically from those of the Chamber; however the company plans to retain their membership and continue their efforts toward new climate change legislation. Much of this disapproval came directly after the Chamber publicly challenged positive findings from the federal EPA concerning the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions by the Clean Air Act.
Built at the peak of a major Republican decade, some would say that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is a mostly conservative, antiregulatory lobbying group. Now that Washington seems to be swaying to the liberal side—essentially becoming more populist and green, the major faces of big business are skeptical of being associated with institutions as such.
According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce website, the group hopes to promote five core principles in regards to climate change.
Any legislation or regulation introduced must:
- Preserve American jobs and competitiveness of U.S. industry;
- Provide an international, economy-wide solution, including developing nations;
- Promote accelerated development and deployment of greenhouse gas reduction technology;
- Reduce barriers to the development of climate-friendly energy sources; and
- Promote energy conservation and efficiency.
The group’s stance on global warming legislation is currently and constantly publicly disputed by various parties on the big business roster, including their former members.
From the We Can Lead two-day rally in Washington to the powerfully proclaimed ‘pro-climate bill’ advertising campaigns; from the recent exodus of corporate icons from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to the overall vocal support for climate change legislation. It seems as if corporate America and the American public alike view climate change as a business worth investing in.
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