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March 17, 2009
Ceres Climate Change Coalition Adds Three New Members
    by Robert Kropp

The Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy (BICEP) lauds Jackson of EPA for emissions reporting proposal and adds Gap, eBay, and Symantec to its membership.


In November 2008, Ceres, a national network of investors, environmental organizations, and other public interest groups working with companies and investors to address sustainability challenges such as global climate change, formed a new business coalition that calls for early passage of climate and energy legislation in the US.

Named Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy (BICEP), the coalition had as its original members Levi Strauss, Nike, Starbucks, Sun Microsystems and Timberland, leading US consumer products companies that pledged to join with Ceres in working with US policymakers to achieve climate and energy policies that encourage energy efficiency, renewable energy, and green jobs.

Arguing that a rapid transition to a low-carbon economy will create new jobs and stimulate economic growth while stabilizing climate change, BICEP established eight principles to help develop meaningful energy and climate change regulation that places a cost on carbon emissions, creates incentives for true clean energy innovation, and ensures public investment.

The principles recommended by BICEP include a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, the establishment of a cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gas emissions, the establishment of aggressive energy efficiency policies, and the promotion of transportation policies for a clean energy economy.

Also among the principles are increased investment in technology and the elimination of subsidies for fossil fuel industries, public investment in new jobs, a renewable portfolio policy, and limits on carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants.

The formation of BICEP turned out to be timely indeed, as two months later Barack Obama took office and immediately began to implement the environmental philosophy on which he campaigned. President Obama's economic stimulus package contains substantial tax and spending provisions for the renewable energy industry, and recently the EPA under Administrator Lisa Jackson has proposed the first comprehensive national system for mandatory reporting of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions produced by major sources in the United States.

Regarding the EPA proposal, Mindy Lubber, President of Ceres and Director of the Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR), a group of 77 institutional investors managing approximately $7 trillion in assets, said, “This rule is an important step forward in helping companies and investors reduce their financial risks from climate change. The Securities and Exchange Commission should coordinate with the EPA to make sure that company-wide information on climate risks and opportunities is quantified and disclosed in SEC filings.”

On the heels of the EPA proposal, Ceres announced that three new companies have joined the BICEP coalition. Gap, eBay, and Symantec, the new members, were announced at a policy discussion held in Washington DC at which the keynote speaker was Ms. Jackson of the EPA.

At the forum, Jackson said, "Not long ago, the thought of a powerful industry group coming forward to fight to strengthen climate and energy policy was something environmentalists could only dream about."

Now, Jackson continued, "We have a president, Barack Obama, who believes we do not need to choose between a green economy and a green environment. Leadership from the business community is essential to our success in protecting human health and the environment. BICEP is pioneering change, and proving every day that the environmentally sound thing to do is also the economically sound thing to do."

In her remarks, Lubber of Ceres praised the visionary qualities of the consumer products companies that have joined BICEP. The founding members of BICEP have begun to address climate change in their corporate operations in a variety of ways.

The goal of Levi Strauss is to achieve carbon neutrality by reducing the amount of energy it uses and moving to 100% renewable energy to meet its remaining needs. After focusing on its own operations, the company will then expand its efforts into its supplier base.

Because the majority of Nike's climate change impact derives from the operations of more than 700 contract factories manufacturing its products, the company is working with its contract factories to help improve energy efficiency and embed green building principles.

Sun Microsystems also works with its manufacturing partners to establish environmental standards and management systems in their factories. The computer company strives to design products that provide more computing power while using less energy and fewer materials, and are easy to disassemble at the end of their useful life.

Noting that addressing climate change will help companies reduce operating costs and mitigate future economic instability due to extreme weather conditions and agricultural loss, the goal of Starbucks is to reduce its environmental footprint through energy and water conservation, recycling, and green construction.

The goal of Timberland is to become carbon neutral, with a reduction over 2006 levels of greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2010. Timberland also calls for the verification of greenhouse gas emissions inventories with a third party to provide accurate and transparent information.

Representatives from BICEP's new members spoke at the forum. Tiffany Jones, director of public policy and government relations at Symantec, said, "It's critical for a coalition such as BICEP to help influence US legislation."

The greenhouse gas emissions targets called for by BICEP would achieve a reduction in greenhouse of 80% below 1990 levels by 2050, and at least 25% reduction below 1990 levels by 2020. These numbers are in line with those proposed by the Obama administration, which also calls for a reduction of 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.

The United States Climate Action Partnership (USCAP), another business partnership, also calls for a 25% reduction in emissions by 2020, but uses 2005 as a baseline rather than 1990. According to a repor t by the EPA, US greenhouse gas emissions increased by 17.1% between 1990 and 2006. Unlike the consumer products companies of BICEP, many of the members of USCAP are from such high-emitting industry sectors as energy and automobiles.

 

 
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