Published 3 years ago.
About a 5 minute read.
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Setting climate goals and claiming leadership while supporting laws that would oppose the realization of those goals is not just bad for a company’s reputation
and the hiring of young talent — such misalignment also poses a systemic risk that is of increasing concern to investors.
As we head into the 2020 presidential
the climate crisis continues to have devastating effects on communities around
the US. This year, record
have ripped through millions of acres of forests on the West Coast, burning
homes and trees to the ground; while so many storms have pummeled the Gulf Coast
that we ran through the English alphabet and have resorted to using Greek
We are once again reminded that we need comprehensive federal climate policy now
and that the business community is perfectly positioned to make it happen.
US companies must speak up. Loudly. Clearly. Regularly. And with the full force
of responsible trade associations behind them. Businesses have the power to move
Capitol Hill and statehouses on inclusive, science-based climate policies. They
have the influence to drive the adoption of both effective regulations and
market solutions to address the climate crisis that threatens the economy and
For too long, the influence of fossil fuel companies has delayed action through
their no-holds-barred use of lobbying for the status quo, climate
policy obstruction and support of climate-denying candidates paired with attacks
on politicians who back climate science.
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It is past time for change. This summer, Ceres released the
Ceres Blueprint for Responsible Policy Engagement on Climate
— clear guidance for how companies can align their direct and indirect climate
advocacy with the latest climate science. What the report calls “Paris-aligned
lobbying” is a linchpin to managing climate risks — one that investors are
demanding companies have in place.
Setting climate goals and claiming leadership while supporting the opposition to
the very laws that would enable the realization of those goals is not just bad
for a company’s reputation and the hiring of young talent — such misalignment
also poses a systemic risk that is of increasing concern to investors. This
month, institutional investors issued an urgent
to 47 of the largest US-based corporate greenhouse gas emitters, reinforcing the
need for companies to get their climate-lobbying practices in order.
Investors aren’t just asking — they’re acting: In June, for the first time ever,
of shareholders at Chevron voted for a resolution that would push the
oil firm to ensure its lobbying activities around climate issues align with the
And just last month, the Business Roundtable spoke
out to make clear its support for
reducing greenhouse gas emissions, in part through carbon
"This was super good news,” Sheldon Whitehouse, the US Senator for Rhode
Island, said during a Ceres Climate Week session. “You have a group of CEOs
of 200 of America’s biggest companies; and they came together in full agreement
to say two things: one, climate change is deadly real and we need to take action
on it, pronto; and two, the action that we seek and recommend is a proper price
to make the necessary economic adjustment for fossil fuels’ massive subsidies.
We are awaiting the next step — when those really important points get
communicated to the lobbying and electioneering apparatus of those companies —
so that we hear that in Congress."
The Business Roundtable statement not only states unequivocal support for
climate science and the Paris Agreement, it alludes to a suite of policy
measures necessary to reduce carbon emissions. The Roundtable also offered key
principles with which to design a carbon price, including making certain that
proceeds benefit those who are most impacted by climate change.
The tide behind advocacy is growing. During the past five months, We Are Still
In — a diverse coalition co-founded by Ceres and
the World Wildlife Foundation — grew to 4,000 leaders strong, increasing the
pressure to keep the US in the Paris
In May, Ceres mobilized the largest business-led advocacy day for climate
— calling for a climate-smart economic recovery. And the Ceres BICEP
Network has continued to
advance strong climate and clean energy policies in states in light of federal
inaction, welcoming 10 new members and bringing the total number of companies in
the network to 68 members strong.
A vital element of responsible corporate climate policy engagement is supporting
those lawmakers who have the foresight to step up to the plate in embracing the
economic opportunities of a net-zero economy. In July, more than 15 US
governors pledged to
to deploy more zero-emission vehicles in their states — the largest multi-state
collaboration on clean transportation in the nation. In August, Massachusetts
House lawmakers passed a landmark climate
that will help the state achieve its ambitious net-zero emissions goal. The bill
would also drive the state’s economy towards 100 percent clean energy and take
into account equity
in future state planning. And in September, California Governor Gavin
Newson issued an executive order to phase out gasoline-powered, light-duty
vehicles by 2035 in the state, which is the world’s 5th-largest economy. The
business community must continue to acknowledge and support these lawmakers for
As we approach the fifth anniversary of the Paris Agreement on December 12, we
face a responsibility and an opportunity like never before. Partisan politics
cannot get in the way of climate action this next round. Like the election
itself, we have too much at stake to get it wrong and every reason to get it
Published Oct 30, 2020 8am EDT / 5am PDT / 12pm GMT / 1pm CET
Anne L. Kelly is VP of Government Affairs at Ceres — a non-profit coalition of investors and companies, which seeks to promote leadership and best practices in sustainability.