Business Climate Conversion Complete

September 16, 2020

Maybe due to the unequivocal messaging from Planet Earth, and perhaps a bit of a desire to get coherent with a new administration – the Business Roundtable has come around on climate.

All right, let’s go.

Wall Street Journal:

When Congress last pushed for comprehensive climate legislation a decade ago, much of corporate America was either neutral or hostile.

In a sign of how much corporate attitudes have changed, the Business Roundtable, one of the country’s most prominent business groups, is throwing its support behind broad-based measures to slash greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In a statement of principlesreleased Wednesday, the Business Roundtable said it “supports a goal of reducing net U.S. GHG emissions by at least 80% from 2005 levels by 2050.” To achieve that, it endorses putting a price on carbon. It didn’t say whether that should be through a carbon tax or a system of tradable emissions permits.

The content of the principles doesn’t break new ground—many big companies long ago embraced equally or more aggressive goals. The U.S. targeted reducing emissions 80% by 2050 when it joined the international Paris climate accord in 2016.

Rather, the significance of the statement is that it shows how business is shifting from a source of resistance to a force for action on climate. The Business Roundtable statement represents the consensus of more than 200 members spanning every sector of the economy, from retail, finance and technology to health care, manufacturing and even oil and gas.

When the group last put out principles on climate, in 2007, it didn’t endorse mandatory measures such as carbon prices because of internal disagreement and warned against policies with “unacceptable” economic costs.

In 2010 groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and National Association of Manufacturers helped kill Congress’s attempt to create a national emissions trading system. (The Business Roundtable was neutral.) Congress hasn’t taken up anything similar since.

Whether that changes will depend on the outcome of November’s election. During a briefing on California’s wildfires this week, President Trump reiterated his skepticism of the scientific consensus on climate change, and his administration has worked to dismantle the Obama administration’s climate regulations, such as on emissions from power plants, vehicles, and oil and gas wells. In November Mr. Trump began the formal, yearlong process of withdrawing from the Paris accord, over the objections of many chief executives.

On the other hand, Democratic candidate Joe Biden has an aggressive climate agendaincluding eliminating emissions from electricity by 2035 and net emissions for the entire economy by 2050. In that case, business could play a significant role both in shaping specific proposals and influencing individual legislators.

Much of what the Business Roundtable asks for are typical corporate demands: less regulatory uncertainty, administrative burden and duplication, as well as protection from foreign competitors facing laxer rules.


In a statement on its website, the Business Roundtable warned of the threats that climate change posed to the United States, and said although significant progress had been made to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the uncertainty caused by the patchwork of state and federal efforts was hurting companies.

“It is time for a new approach,” the statement said.

The group also backed the goals of the 2015 Paris agreement of limiting average global temperature increases to 2 degrees Celsius — a sharp break from President Donald Trump, who is planning to make the U.S. the only country in the world to pull out of the pact.

“The United States and the international community must aggressively reduce GHG emissions and create incentives for developing new technologies to achieve this goal. Business Roundtable supports a goal of reducing net U.S. GHG emissions by at least 80 percent from 2005 levels by 2050,” it said.

Among the Roundtable’s dozens of members are the heads of companies that are major carbon dioxide emitters, including Nick Akins of utility giant American Electric Power, Lynn Good of Duke Energy, Chevron CEO and Chairman Mike Wirth, ConocoPhillips chief Ryan Lance, and Exxon Mobil boss Darren Woods. The head of Wall Street giants Bank of America, Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs are also members.

Business Roundtable:

Unchecked, climate poses significant environmental, economic, public health and security threats to countries around the world, including the United States. While the United States has made significant progress toward reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as a result of private sector innovation and supportive state and federal policies, the existing patchwork of federal and state regulations, tax incentives, subsidies and other policies is inefficient and has negatively impacted the long-term investment strategies of many U.S. companies by creating regulatory uncertainty. It is time for a new approach.

Business Roundtable believes corporations should lead by example, support sound public policies and drive the innovation needed to address climate change. To this end, the United States should adopt a more comprehensive, coordinated and market-based approach to reduce emissions. This approach must be pursued in a manner that ensures environmental effectiveness while fostering innovation, maintaining U.S. competitiveness, maximizing compliance flexibility and minimizing costs to business and society. International cooperation and diplomacy backed by a broadly supported U.S. policy will be the key to achieving the collective global action required to meet the scope of the challenge and position the U.S. economy for long-term success.

3 Responses to “Business Climate Conversion Complete”

  1. rhymeswithgoalie Says:

    I think they finally figured out that there’s nowhere to run where they’ll be safe from the effects. Some of them may even have grandchildren.

  2. BL Brown Says:

    Late to the game and still demanding a minimum cost transition for themselves and their interests. That ship sailed a long while ago.

    • Keith Omelvena Says:

      Also too late to de programme the masses of ignorant, mouth foaming, knuckle draggers they created by channelling money through various denialist lobby groups. I can see their bastard creation disappearing further down the rat hole of conspiracy theories and right wing extremism!

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