Businesses are leading Congress on climate action

This article originally appeared in The Environmental Forum.

It is a political reality that Corporate America has tremendous influence in Congress – and many companies have used this power to oppose environmental regulations and strong action on climate change. But the activities of the past two months suggest this is starting to change, which is great news given the urgency of the climate crisis. Dozens of leading businesses are finally making climate action the priority it should be, and urging Congress to enact national policies addressing the issue head-on. If this trend continues and accelerates, it will play a huge role in creating the breakthrough moment when lawmakers see ambitious climate action as not only a scientific mandate but a political necessity. Read more

13 major companies call on Congress to accelerate climate legislation. Here’s why.

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. Read more

3 Keys for the American Petroleum Institute’s New Climate Task Force

The climate change discussion is percolating even in surprising places. The latest sign: the American Petroleum Institute’s recent formation of an internal task force on climate change. Reportedly the new task force’s mandate is to revisit API’s approach to this crucial issue, going into an election year and with ever greater scrutiny on fossil fuels.

AdobeStock_56840116It is too soon to know whether the task force will rubber stamp a business-as-usual approach defined by glossing over climate concerns and attacking policy measures, or chart a new path instead.

But if the task force is serious about a fresh look at the issue, here are three keys for the task force to consider as it ponders the future of API on climate. Read more

Three Ways to Step Up Corporate Sustainability Leadership

Tom Murray, VP Corporate Partnerships, EDFAt COP21, the governments of almost 200 nations spoke with one voice to fight climate change. Global corporations played a critical role in making this breakthrough moment possible. Now it’s more important than ever that US business leaders continue to lead, sending a powerful message to the world about our commitment to a thriving, clean energy future.

So what can forward-thinking companies do to show leadership on climate and position their firms to succeed in the low-carbon future? Here are three ways that corporate leaders can step up their sustainability efforts in 2016:

1. Set public, science-based emission reduction goals that extend beyond your operations and into your supply chains

business leverageCompanies around the world are increasing their climate leadership and ambition. Announcing big numbers is no longer enough. Greenhouse gas (GHG) targets must be based on what science tells us is required to limit warming and stabilize the climate.

One major corporation that has actively engaged its supply chain is Walmart. Working closely with Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), the world’s largest retailer exceeded its 5-year goal and reduced 28 million metric tons of GHG from its global supply chain and product life cycles. EDF was on the ground, providing the science and uncovering the GHG hotspots in Walmart’s supply chain. By sending the right demand signals, Walmart was able to engage its vast network of suppliers to unlock innovation and drive emission reductions, proving that big goals drive big innovation.

In addition, Kellogg has announced it plans to cut GHG emissions by 65% across its own operations, and for the first time, work with suppliers to cut supply chain emissions by 50% by 2050.

Leading companies recognise that today’s environmental challenges are too big to tackle on their own. Taking a systems-approach means looking beyond the four walls of your company, collaborating with key supply chain partners, and sending a clear demand signal for sustainable products and practices across your supply chain. Read more

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly: When Oil Giants Shift to Natural Gas

Pump jacks lined up in Oklahoma. (Credit: Kool Kats)

Pump jacks lined up in Oklahoma. (Credit: Kool Kats)

Six large European oil and gas companies recently announced a commitment to engage on climate policy, calling for a price on carbon. The now-emerging picture of their coordinated corporate talking points, however, leaves no doubt that promotion of natural gas is a core part of the group’s position.

Is this development a beneficial push to help the planet transition to a low carbon economy – or just another marketing campaign? The truth, so far, lies somewhere in between.

Here are the good, the bad and the ugly highlights of what we’ve learned over the past week and what it all means.

The good: Establishing a carbon price and cutting carbon dioxide emissions

Make no mistake about it: The world’s leading economies need to establish a price and limits on greenhouse gas emissions, and leadership from the private sector is instrumental in achieving that policy objective.

For large companies such as Shell, BP and Statoil to join forces and unequivocally state, as they now have, that a price on carbon should be a “key element” of climate policy frameworks is a refreshing boost to pre-Paris United Nations climate talks.

It is a potentially powerful validation that even some of the world’s largest corporate emitters see an upside to carbon pricing and will weigh in to make it a reality.

As to promoting natural  gas a solution, it is well documented that in many cases natural gas will replace coal for power generation – a shift already underway in the United States and partly responsible for driving down carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Read more