In an unprecedented show of business support for tackling climate change, 365 companies and investor groups sent letters today to more than two dozen governors across the United States voicing their support for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan for existing power plants and encouraging the state’s “timely finalization” of state implementation plans to meet the new standards.
The letter, organized by sustainability advocacy group Ceres, comes just days before the expected finalization of the rule aimed at reducing U.S. power plant carbon pollution by 30 percent by 2030.
“Our support is firmly grounded in economic reality,” wrote the businesses, including industry giants such as Ben & Jerry’s, Clif Bar, EILEEN FISHER, Mars, Nestlé, Unilever and VF Corporation, all of which have been vocal in their support of the Clean Power Plan since its public comment period in 2014. “Clean energy solutions are cost-effective and innovative ways to drive investment and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Increasingly, businesses rely on renewable energy and energy-efficiency solutions to cut costs and improve corporation performance.”
The group of investors and businesses and investors — which also includes eBay, Gap, General Mills, L’Oréal USA, Levi Strauss, Schneider Electric, Seventh Generation and Staples — is the largest-ever group of business voices to support the Clean Power Plan, the biggest carbon-reducing measure in the country’s history, according to Ceres. Letters were sent to 29 governors.
“More than ever, businesses and investors are waking up to the threat of climate change and the urgency for low-carbon solutions that make strong economic sense,” said Ceres president Mindy Lubber. “The Clean Power Plan speaks to these growing business concerns by providing certainty and flexibility in building their own clean energy strategies.”
The EPA Clean Power Plan is the nation’s first comprehensive effort to reduce carbon pollution from existing electric power plants – the single largest source of global warming pollution in the country. The plan sets unique emissions-reduction targets for each state to achieve by 2030 and gives states flexibility in how to best achieve their goals, such as through deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency.
The letters follow a trend in which a growing number of businesses are increasingly relying on renewable energy and energy efficiency to cut their costs and reduce their reliance on high polluting, price volatile fossil fuels. A 2014 study by Ceres, Calvert Investments and the World Wildlife Fund found that 60 percent of Fortune 100 companies have set their own clean energy targets and have saved more than $1 billion in energy costs by doing so.
“Having access to clean energy choices, whether efficiency or renewable energy, helps us manage our energy related costs while also reducing our environmental impact,” said Letitia Webster, senior director of global sustainability at VF Corporation, parent company of apparel brands including The North Face, Timberland and Reef. “The Clean Power Plan will enable us to continue to invest in clean energy solutions and further advance our greenhouse gas reduction goals.” VF Corporation employs about 50,000 employees.
"It's going to take action from all of us to avoid the worst consequences of climate change,” said Kevin Rabinovitch, Global Sustainability Director at Mars**.** “Delivering required emissions reductions as well as economic benefits is the route to a better future. For businesses like Mars, that means delivering on efficiency and renewable energy; for the EPA and state governors, that means developing and delivering against initiatives like the Clean Power Plan. We applaud this contribution to the critically important collective effort to secure our collective future.”
“Climate change poses serious risks to financial markets and the U.S. economy,” said Stu Dalheim, VP of shareholder advocacy at Calvert Investments, which manages more than $13.5 billion. “At Calvert, we believe solutions to climate change offer real opportunities to U.S. investors and companies. That’s why we strongly support the EPA’s Clean Power Plan. It’s common-sense, flexible and pragmatic approach will provide investors with the certainty needed to put their capital to work to continue the transition to a low-carbon economy.”
The private sector has been increasingly vocal in its support of bold climate action in the States, as evidenced by the over 1,200 signatories to BICEP’s Climate Declaration. Many of these companies have led the charge in adopting their own bold goals for renewable energy use, with Mars and Nestle among the original joiners of RE100, a multi-year initiative launched in 2014 to encourage major companies to switch to 100 percent renewable power. Meanwhile, earlier this week marked the launch of the American Business Act on Climate Pledge, for which 13 of the largest U.S. companies — Apple, Google, Microsoft, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Walmart, Alcoa, Bank of America, Berkshire Hathaway Energy, Cargill, Goldman Sachs and UPS — united in pledging a collective $140 billion of low-carbon investments in the global economy and over 1,600 MW of new renewable energy. The high-profile pledge is the latest indicator that the White House is succeeding in its effort to garner private-sector support for a substantive climate agreement at COP21.