Corporate America is setting – and meeting – increasingly ambitious climate and clean energy goals. But the hard reality is that individual corporate action, no matter how big, won’t solve this great climate crisis.
In order to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, we need public policies that harness the power of the whole economy to drive down emissions by putting prices and limits on climate pollution.
Businesses that are sincerely interested in protecting our health, economy and future from the ravages of climate change must join this national public policy discussion. We need companies to lead, not follow, Congress.
That’s why it’s big news that 13 major companies have now joined four nonprofit organizations, including Environmental Defense Fund, to form the core of a new effort to push for climate policy. The CEO Climate Dialogue initiative involves major food brands, powerful utilities, and one of the nation’s leading car companies. Our goal is to turn the power of the marketplace towards addressing this crisis.
Together we have proposed six Guiding Principles for federal action on climate change. These principles center on an economy wide carbon pricing policy as the best way to meet climate targets and incentivize innovation and investment in clean energy technologies and solutions – including ways to absorb or remove climate pollution from the atmosphere.
They also highlight the need for setting aggressive climate targets and designing policies that focus on outcomes, deliver predicable results, are adaptive over time, promote equity, and do no harm to our economy or our nation’s biodiversity.
Why are environmental groups celebrating these corporations’ commitment to push for action? Because to enact real change – to push it through a Congress that requires bipartisan support to pass major legislation – we need all the political power we can get. We absolutely need environmental advocates, like supporters of the Green New Deal and 100% clean energy. But we also need major economic voices.
The reality of politics is that durable and effective change comes from broad coalitions. We need them not only to enact change, but to help prevent it from being undermined next time the political pendulum swings, as it always does.
This is not the first time companies have stepped forward to help push for comprehensive climate legislation. In launching this new initiative, we are trying to learn from past experience. For instance, this group is determined to work with all those who share our goal of solving the climate challenge, and committed to working with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to develop effective policies rather than offering a predetermined policy solution.
The Guiding Principles provide a basis for companies to make their support for ambitious climate action heard on Capitol Hill, and Environmental Defense Fund will continue to work towards achieving net-zero emissions.
The most powerful tool companies have to fight climate change is their political influence. It’s great to see several starting to use it.
We are looking to recruit more CEOs from major companies who want to tackle a multi-trillion dollar threat to our economy and public health. And who need to get ahead of the competition and be ready for a changing landscape. And who have to respond investors, employees, and customers who are starting to demand climate action.
Most of all, we are looking for business leaders who want to tell their grandchildren they acted while there was still time.
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