US corporates push for action on climate change

George Bush faces mounting pressure to take action on climate change this week as ten heavyweight corporations called for the American President to introduce tough measures to reduce greenhouse gases.

Timed to coincide with the President’s State of the Union address on Tuesday, the open letter from the business-based US Climate Change Partnership (USCAP) argued that there were economic as well as environmental benefits to taking prompt action on reducing carbon emissions and, echoing the Stern Review, said that failure to act now would men steeper cuts, and greater expense, further down the line.

The partnership also used the letter to launch its suggested solutions to the carbon crisis, which can be found in an online report, A Call for Action.

In short, the report calls for legislation at a federal level to address carbon emissions and its recommendations boil down to:

  • Take into account the fact that climate change is a global problem, not just an American one

  • Consider the importance of technology when looking at ways to cut carbon

  • Recognise the potential for economic opportunities and advantage when addressing climate change

  • Encourage early action and offer incentives for it

  • Be even-handed when it comes to sectors disproportionately impacted.

    When looking down the membership list of the partnership, which includes energy and chemical giants, it seems likely that the last point can be read as ‘go easy on the big emitters’ or at least introduce a system which does not penalise them to heavily and treat them as an easy target.

    As well as big-name corporations there are also a number of environmental NGOs in the partnership. To give some idea of the clout of the partnership, the companies involved have a combined market capitalization of more than US$750 billion while the environmental groups have more than one million members worldwide.

    The members are Alcoa, BP America, Caterpillar, Duke Energy, DuPont, FPL Group, General Electric, Lehman Brothers, PG&E and PNM Resources, along with the NGOs Environmental Defense, Natural Resources Defense Council, Pew Center on Global Climate Change and the World Resources Institute.

    “The time has come for constructive action that draws strength equally from business, government, and non-governmental stakeholders,” said Jeff Immelt, chairman and CEO of General Electric.

    “These recommendations should catalyze legislative action that encourages innovation and fosters economic growth while enhancing energy security and balance of trade, ensuring US leadership on an issue of significance to our country and the world.”

    Sam Bond

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