2015: A Year of Business and Policy Action on Climate

Tom Murray, VP Corporate Partnerships, EDFFor most of us, New Year’s marks the time when we set annual resolutions (personal and professional) and get to work on tackling the priorities for the year ahead. In my hometown of Washington, DC a new year also means that Congress comes back into session, lawmakers and speechwriters ready their agendas and proposals, and the president delivers the State of the Union address.

From what we heard last night and in recent announcements, 2015 could be a big year for action on climate – from government and the private sector alike. But big results will take leadership on all fronts.

Leadership from our government…

Addressing climate change is supported by the vast majority of Americans and the Obama administration is taking bold steps to curb the United States’ contribution to climate change. Last night, we saw President Obama tell the nation “no challenge – no challenge – poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change” in his State of the Union address. The President also strongly reiterated his commitment to work to ensure “American leadership drives international action” on climate change.

It is clear that climate change is an urgent national priority. Fortunately, the Administration is carrying out its promises under the Climate Action Plan, and steps taken and soon-to-be-taken have helped put us on the right path. From the proposal to reduce carbon pollution from power plants, expected fuel economy standards for medium- and heavy-duty trucks, to last week’s announcement of steps to address methane emissions from the oil and gas sector, we have seen a lot of progress to address climate change since the last State of the Union. Further, the November announcement of a joint China-U.S. agreement to address climate change on a global scale underscores how crucial U.S. leadership is at this juncture in achieving a binding worldwide climate deal. Much more work remains and leadership at all levels will be necessary to meet our climate goals.

…and from our peers

Leadership can and should also come from top U.S. companies. By both leading in efforts to reduce emissions from their operations and supporting the policy changes needed to solve climate change at scale. We saw this trend last year, when a range of companies and investors took bold steps in terms of climate action:

Supporting the EPA’s Clean Power Plan

The Clean Power Plan would create the first national limits on carbon pollution from exiting power plants and the EPA is scheduled to finalize the plan this summer.

Through flexible, state-specific implementation plans, it is expected to achieve a 30% reduction in carbon pollution from the U.S. power sector by 2030, compared to 2005 levels. In finalizing the plan, the EPA paves the way for states to present their individual plans for meeting the standards by June 2016.

Public opinion polls across the country have consistently found strong support among Americans for reducing emissions from existing power plants. EDF has been active in rallying its members to submit comments in support of the EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan – in fact, we delivered nearly half a million comments last year – and we’ve also reached out directly to companies to talk about how they can benefit from engaging in the rule’s implementation, as we did during our November webinar.

21 companies joined us for the webinar, where EDF Senior Manager Mandy Warner and I answered questions about how to get involved, and what the midterm elections would likely mean for the Clean Power Plan’s implementation.

Time to act

By engaging on the Clean Power Plan, companies that care about clean energy have near-term opportunities to expand the demand and market for renewable energy and energy efficiency and shape policy in the regions where they operate.

Companies across sectors can leverage the changing policy landscape to better meet their carbon reduction, green power purchasing and efficiency goals. For those firms in energy efficiency, renewable energy and metering / demand response sector, there are clear growth opportunities as well.

EDF stands ready to help businesses figure out the best avenues for engaging – whether it’s sharing their stories, making public comments or engaging constructively in the public policy debate in the states where they operate.

The Plan represents an important occasion for companies to benefit and lead by aligning their internal energy strategy and operations with their external engagement in public policy. This alignment is what we call the business-policy nexus and represents the next step in corporate sustainability leadership.  It’s what is needed to solve the climate challenge and we’d be thrilled to have you join us in paving the way to a clean energy future this new year.