Businesses Tell Congress: Act on Climate!

Guest post by Eliza Kelsten, Policy Associate at the American Sustainable Business Council

Businesses want action from government on climate. Over 1,000 firms have already shown support with statements on the Paris agreement, internal carbon pricing policies, and sustainable business practices.

We want to make sure members of Congress are aware of these developments. Last month, on the heels of the People’s Climate March, business leaders from across the country traveled to Washington, DC for the National Business Climate and Clean Energy Advocacy program.

In addition to a half-day conference on current US climate and energy policy, our coalition held 70 meetings with members of Congress and their staffs from both sides of the aisle, to tell them why climate action makes business sense.

The American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC) and E2 led the event, with support from the Sustainable Furnishings Council, Sustainable Food Trade Association, Partnership for Responsible Growth, Health Care Without Harm, Climate Action Business Association, Vermont Energy Investment Corporation, Business Climate Leaders, New Hampshire Businesses for Social Responsibility, New Jersey Sustainable Business Council, and Green America.

Speakers from World Resources Institute, R Street Institute, Natural Resources Defense Council, Citizens’ Climate Lobby, Climate Leadership Council and others forecast the chances of a carbon tax, continued EPA and DOE program funding and Investment and Production Tax Credits, and honoring the Paris climate agreement.

Later, Congressional aides offered their first-hand perspectives. Overall, as Meehan (R-PA) staffer Jimmy Gray, noted, “There is growing recognition among Republican members that climate change is a threat to the economy, but resistance from traditional energy interests remains strong.”

At breakfast, Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Ed Markey (D-MA) said business must lead Congress on climate change. Whitehouse urged big companies especially to speak up; stating to be silent for fear of antagonizing the Trump Administration is an act of civic irresponsibility. He said, “The credibility of corporate America is at stake here.”

Business leaders’ presence at events like the People’s Climate March is a good step, said Joule Energy’s Kevin Fitzwilliam. “Policies that promote a stronger country must reflect the consensus of the scientific community and the reality of a changing climate people face around the country. Being visible in the streets of Washington shows politicians and the country that motivated citizens from every state are doggedly determined to protect our environment and promote clean energy.” 

IMG_0616During their meetings with policymakers, business leaders stressed that climate change is a fundamental danger to industries throughout the US. They also noted the clean energy sector employs over two million people and attracts significant capital investments. “With supportive public policies and investments, clean energy will not only save our environment but reaffirm America’s world leadership,” concluded ASBC’s Richard Eidlin.

As Washington rolls back key environmental protections, ASBC members like Ben & Jerry’s and Patagonia have redoubled their efforts and companies of all sizes are joining in. Between meetings in Washington, ASBC members – 60 in April alone -- meet representatives in their home districts during recess to make the case for climate action.

“Strong government policy is essential to limit global warming to levels that avoid catastrophic consequences,” said Katie Clark of Happy Family Brands. “As a small brand, advocating for climate policy is one of the key ways we can magnify our actions to ensure future generations a healthy, happy planet to thrive in.” 

ASBC mobilizes business leaders to help persuade government that companies want environmental regulations and other actions to protect our economy from climate change. To learn more about ASBC, please visit our website, and add your business voice to our carbon pricing action letter.


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