In the media storm surrounding the midterm elections, you might have missed an important act of sustainability leadership. Five of the world’s leading brands filed public comments opposing the Administration’s Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule. The ACE rule would replace the Clean Power Plan, which all five companies have previously supported, and place no quantitative limits on climate pollution from power plants.
In their public comments to the Environmental Protection Agency, Apple and the four members of the Sustainable Food Policy Alliance (SFPA) – Danone, Mars, Nestlé and Unilever – make it clear that clean energy is good for business, and call for policies that cut emissions in line with what science says is necessary.
Here are three of the key reasons they spoke up.
- Climate change is bad for business
Climate change doesn’t just threaten ecological balance, it threatens balance sheets. According to Apple, “Climate change is real. We are already seeing its impacts on our communities, our way of life and our health and safety.” Businesses are not immune to those impacts. As the members of the SFPA note, “climate change is bad for farmers, agriculture, business, and consumers. Drought, flooding and hotter growing conditions threaten the world’s food supply and contribute to food insecurity.”
The SFPA comments further note that “for the United States alone, credible estimates from GAO, FEMA and others are that without action, potential risks to the United States economy are in the trillions of dollar range.”
- The ACE proposal is neither clean nor affordable
Apple, Danone, Mars, Nestlé, and Unilever cite numerous reasons why the ACE rule is an ill-informed and inadequate response to climate change that would harm U.S. businesses and the country’s economy. For example, ACE would:
- Delay action to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, worsening the impacts of climate change;
- Create regulatory uncertainty that is harmful for U.S. businesses and the economy;
- Exclude readily available and cost-effective technologies for reducing emissions;
- Distort clean energy markets by creating a loophole for existing coal units; and
- Burden ratepayers with higher costs and increased health risks.
As Apple points out, ACE “is a move backward to yesterday’s technology at a time when we should be moving forward to scale up clean energy.” SFPA members state that “any adjustments to U.S. climate policy should continue to support the increased use of renewable energy and yield equal or better greenhouse gas emissions at equal or lower costs.” Unfortunately, the ACE proposal falls far short of that mark.
In fact, according to the EPA’s own analysis, the ACE rule could in many states be worse than doing nothing.
- Businesses need strong climate policy
In light of the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, all five companies call for immediate, decisive, and non-partisan action effort from the private sector and government to reduce emissions. Because while voluntary corporate actions to cut emissions are important, they’re simply not enough. Only public policy can deliver the pace and scale of reductions needed to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.
According to the SFPA, “it is clear we need national policies that drive the systemic change necessary to reduce GHG emissions in line with what the science says is necessary.” And as Apple writes, “a comprehensive national framework is needed to promote the efficient production and use of clean, plentiful, low-cost power.”
It’s time for more companies to speak up
While it’s heartening to see these five companies advocate for effective climate and energy policies, businesses across America must do the same if we are to enact policies that are equal to the challenge we face. That’s why policy advocacy is an essential element of corporate sustainability leadership.
To all of the companies that have set science-based emission reduction targets, that have committed to buying 100% renewable energy, that are “Still In” – when will you make your voice heard? To all the rest, when will you weigh in? Silence is a vote to do nothing about climate change, and that’s a risk none of us can afford to take.
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