February 01, 2007
Top CEOs Address Climate Change
by Anne Moore Odell
A collaboration between ten major US companies and four environmental organizations calls on the
Federal government to quickly enact strong legislation to reduce greenhouse emissions.
On Monday January 22, 2007, the U.S. Climate Action Partnership (USCAP) released a report that urges the Federal government to create
legislation to cut gas emissions that lead to the warming of the atmosphere. The report was timed
to appear right before President Bushís 2007 State of the Union address the following day. USCAPís
statements clearly outline the steps they think are necessary for combating climate change.
USCAPís strength lies in its membership, which includes a small, but influential group
of US companies and environmental organizations. Its corporate members include Alcoa, BP America,
Caterpillar, Duke Energy, DuPont, FPL Group, General Electric, Lehman Brothers, PG&E, and PNM
Resources. Four non-governmental organizations joined with these business leaders: Environmental
Defense, Natural Resources Defense Council, Pew Center on Global Climate Change, and World
Bob Malone, chairman and president of BP America told
SocialFunds.com, "It is very important to interact with a wide group of stakeholders when you are
trying to understand any complicated matter. The USCAP framework document is a great example of a
diverse group working together to help progress an issue as complex as climate policy."
Entitled "A Call for Action" USCAPís solutions-based report outlines a market-driven approach
to climate protection. Six principles power the report: 1. Account for the global dimensions of
climate change; 2. Recognize the importance of technology; 3. Be environmentally effective; 4.
Create economic opportunity and advantage; 5. Be fair to sectors disproportionately impacted; and
6. Recognize and encourage early action.
USCAP member DuPont stressed the importance of
Federal legislation. "We think it is time for Congress to act on federal climate change
legislation," said Dawn Rittenhouse, Dupontís Director of Sustainable Development. "Efforts by
Congress are important, and we believe that a well-constructed federal policy that relies on
market-based mechanisms will give business the regulatory certainty that we need to make investment
and planning decisions."
USCAPís recommendations are based on a "cap and trade" program
of mandatory reductions of greenhouse gas emissions. USCAP asks lawmakers to create laws that tell
all sectors to reduce emissions including large stationary sources, transportation, and energy use.
The "cap and trade" program would create a national cap on greenhouse gas emissions and a
national market for trading carbon credits, with a later goal of creating an international carbon
trading market. A carbon trading market would set a limit for the amount of carbon any company
could emit. A company that emitted more carbon than allowed would have to pay a fine or find a
company that was willing to trade of its unspent allowed carbon emissions. The implementation of
the program would be economy-wide with chances for agriculture and forestry industries to take
part, and with an overall focus on energy efficiency and renewable energy.
The response to
USCAPís announcement has largely been positive with many on the left and right applauding the
organization's goals. Ana Unruh Cohen, Director of Environmental Policy, at the Center for American
Progress, a progressive think-tank operating out of Washington DC, quickly endorsed USCAPís report.
Speaking with SocialFunds.com, she said, "As business and environmental leaders they represent a
broad constituency ready to act to avert dangerous climate change. Their efforts will be critical
for educating the American people and their elected officials at every level of government."
USCAP member companies have much to gain if all or even some of the reportís recommendations
are passed into law. Many of these ten companies have already started to manufacture products that
address climate change and/or have already implemented measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
GE, for one, has launched "ecomagination" which is GEís commitment to a greener future with
products for industry, infrastructure, transportation and the home.
"I think we will see a
serious attempt to include much of what they recommend in climate legislation as it moves in the
110th Congress. President Bush's State of the Union address last week made clear he is not yet
ready to seriously tackle the serious issue of climate change," Cohen continued in response to the
report. "But if [Bush] is to come around to supporting mandatory action to reduce greenhouse gas
emissions, I think it will come through efforts by the business community like the U.S. Climate
USCAP recognizes that climate change is a global issue. Besides the
"cap and trade" program it puts forth, it also suggests encouraging action in other countries to
help cut greenhouse gas. Furthermore the report suggests cleaner technologies need to be supported
including existing technologies such as wind, solar and nuclear power that emit little or no
USCAPís report lays out a plan to establish a mandatory cap on carbon
emissions with the final goal of cutting greenhouse gas emission 70% to 90% of current levels in 15
Eighty-five percent of Americans polled recently by TIME Magazine, ABC News
and Stanford University said that they believe global warming is probably happening. Fifty-two
percent of those polled favor government mandates and majority (61%) say they would support a
government mandate on lowering power plant emissions. The USCAP collaboration mirrors the belief
that most Americans share that global warming is probably occurring now. These business and
environmental leaders are telling Congress and the President that voluntary industry reduction of
greenhouse emissions has not been satisfactory and it is time for Congress to pass laws to address
Jennifer Layke, Deputy Director, Climate Energy and Pollution Program for
the World Resource Institute, summed up the urgency USCAP members feel, "We have no time to lose.
Congress must begin serious and studied dialogue now. The response has been tremendous. There is
clearly a new determination to find a path forward."