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September 04, 2015
Investors Call on Corporations to Oppose Chamber's Challenge to Clean Power Plan
    by Robert Kropp

Fifty prominent members of the Chamber of Commerce receive letters from investors, requesting that they address contradictions between their public positions on climate change and their funding of the Chamber's opposition to the Clean Power Plan.

Led by Walden Asset Management, investors representing more than $320 billion in assets under management were joined by foundations and nongovernmental organizations in writing to 50 prominent corporations that are members of the US Chamber of Commerce. The letters request that the companies “address any misalignment between their own positions and actions on climate change and their funding of the Chamber’s actions against the Clean Power Plan.”

Clean Power Plan, the final version of which was issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in early August, will, according to the Agency, reduce carbon pollution from the power sector by nearly one-third by 2030. In a letter organized by Ceres, 365 corporate signatories voiced their support for the plan, describing EPA's Carbon Pollution Standards as “critical for moving our country toward a clean energy economy.”

Undeterred by such a strong showing of corporate support for the plan, the Chamber predictably opposed it, going so far as to produce an analysis before the Agency even issued a first draft last year. The Chamber's analysis,
according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), “grossly overstated the costs and ignored the benefits of the Clean Power Plan a full week before the EPA made its draft plan available to the public.”

UCS is a signatory to the letters organized by Walden, and earlier this year
analyzed the 2014 disclosures to the CDP by corporations on the board of the Chamber. Only three of the 32 board members disclosed their affiliations with the Chamber, and only one—American Electric Power—has a climate policy aligned with that of the Chamber. None of the three companies that disclosed their board membership stated that their policies were consistent with the Chamber's.

Without requesting that companies end their affiliation with the Chamber, the letters request that they use their influence to encourage it to cease its campaign against the Plan, and to publicly distance themselves from the Chamber's stance.

“We are confident that the Chamber does not represent the position of many of its major members on climate,” Stu Dalheim of signatory
Calvert Investments. “This letter urges companies to be their own spokesperson and not let the Chamber pretend that the business community is solidly opposed to the Clean Power Plan. This is the time for companies to ensure that their lobbying and climate positions are consistent.”

“In advance of global climate talks in Paris this December, we anticipate strong forward looking policies and greenhouse gas reduction targets by nation states,” Tim Smith of Walden said. “Simultaneously, we believe we have a unique role and responsibility to encourage corporate leaders to support aggressive action on climate change and to carefully scrutinize the role of companies that block progress through their lobbying and public policy advocacy, whether intentional or inadvertent.”

Meanwhile, in the European Union (EU), 25 institutional investors representing $68 billion in assets went further by calling on companies to leave trade associations that seek to undermine climate policy. Organized by
ShareAction, the investors wrote to several companies in high-emitting energy sectors, stating that withdrawal “would reassure shareholders of the consistency of your position on climate change.”


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