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May 21, 2010
Six Thousand US Companies Support Climate Change Legislation
    by Robert Kropp

An analysis by American Businesses for Clean Energy finds that supporters of climate legislation include many companies in the Fortune 100 and Fortune 500.

Two down, one to go?

Of the three major legislative initiatives advanced by the Obama administration, health care reform has become law, and the US Senate finally passed its version of financial regulatory reform yesterday. Social investors and shareowner activists will be relieved to learn that an effort by Senator Tom Carper of Delaware to remove important corporate governance provisions from the Senate bill failed.

The bill passed by the Senate includes authorizing the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to grant shareowners proxy access to nominate directors. It also requires that directors win majority votes in uncontested elections, and allows for nonbinding votes by shareowners on executive compensation.

With two legislative victories over the party of “hell, no,” only meaningful legislation addressing climate change remains to be accomplished. Because meaningful climate change legislation will have to direct a significant retooling of the US economy away from its dependence on fossil fuels, extravagantly funded interest groups such as the US Chamber of Commerce have devoted millions of dollars to opposing its passage.

However, as it has been made clear by several high-profile defections from the Chamber over its oppositional stance on climate change legislation, the business community itself has increasingly lined up to be counted as supporters of such legislation.

On Wednesday,
American Businesses for Clean Energy (ABCE) published an analysis of business support for climate change legislation. By tallying business membership in seven coalitions and initiatives, ABCE found that 6,000 companies support energy and climate legislation.

ABCE describes itself as “an initiative to demonstrate large and small business support for Congressional enactment of clean energy and climate legislation that will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” The organizations whose business membership was analyzed by ABCE include
We Can Lead, Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy (BICEP), the US Climate Action Partnership, the Business Environmental Leadership Council (BELC), and the Clean Energy Group’s Clean Air Policy Initiative (CAPI).

In its analysis, ABCE found that the 6,000 business supporters of climate change legislation employ an estimated 3.5 million workers, represent more than $2.6 trillion in market capitalization, and totaled $3.5 trillion in estimated revenue in 2009.

Twenty-one Fortune 100 companies and 49 Fortune 500 companies are represented in ABCE’s tally, including Target, Bank of America, Boeing, Gap, General Electric, Ford, IBM, Starbucks, United Technologies, and John Deere.

Christopher Van Atten of ABCE said, “This unprecedented outpouring of business support for real leadership from the White House and US Senate on clean energy and climate should be a wake-up call for elected officials in Washington.”

“What unites all of these businesses is a shared agreement on the wisdom of comprehensive clean energy legislation that will create jobs, unleash innovation and make our nation more secure, while cutting greenhouse gas emissions,” Van Atten said.


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