Big Companies Ask Congress For National Carbon Price

The Sherburne County (Sherco) Generating Station, a coal-fired power plant owned by Xcel Energy, in Becker, Minnesota., Jan. 6, 2019 (Photo by Tony Webster)


WASHINGTON, DC, May 22, 2019 (ENS) – Representatives of some of the largest U.S.-based corporations are asking Congress to pass meaningful climate legislation, including a price on carbon.

Today, executives from more than 75 businesses, including: BP, eBay, Capital One, Exelon, Gap, Levi Strauss, Nike, Mars Inc., Microsoft, PepsiCo, Shell, Symantic and Tesla, met with a bipartisan group of federal lawmakers in the largest business gathering on Capitol Hill to advocate for climate legislation in over a decade.

Gathering under the name of Lawmaker Education & Advocacy Day, or LEAD, the participating businesses include 21 Fortune 500 companies as well as trade associations, medium and small businesses from all 50 states, collectively representing combined annual revenues of more than $2.5 trillion and more than one million U.S. employees.

Silicon Ranch, based in Nashville, Tennessee, is the U.S. solar platform for Shell. Completed in December 2015, this Silicon Ranch solar array is the largest utility-scale solar project in the state of Arkansas. (Photo courtesy Silicon Ranch)

The businesses calling for a meaningful national carbon price span across the American economy, including retail giants, manufacturers, oil majors, healthcare services, food and beverage companies, outdoors industries, technology companies and energy providers. A full list of business participants is online here.

Representatives from these businesses are meeting one-on-one with lawmakers and congressional staff from both sides of the aisle in the House and the Senate to educate them on the economic impacts of climate change and the need for comprehensive and effective national climate policies.

Hosted by Senator Chris Coons, a Delaware Democrat, these representatives made the business case for a strong and effective federal carbon price and share the private sector’s vision for comprehensive solutions to tackle climate change.

Senator Coons calls climate change one of the most important challenges facing our nation and the world. “…we must act quickly to reduce the amount of global warming gases released into the atmosphere, while also ensuring that our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions provide opportunities for economic growth and do not stifle investment, innovation, and job creation,” he said.

This increased private sector engagement with Congress comes at a time when the impacts and consequences of a warming world are becoming more clear, with recent scientific reports detailing the effects of climate change in the United States and across the globe.

In addition, a growing number of bipartisan lawmakers are offering their own carbon pricing proposals. In the last three years, Democrats and Republicans collaborated to introduce several different carbon pricing bills in both the Senate and the House, including the Market Choice Act and the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, but these bills were not passed into law.

Companies from sectors as varied as investments and ice cream participated in today’s carbon pricing meetings.

The Sherburne County Generating Station, a coal-fired power plant owned by Xcel Energy, in Becker, Minnesota., Jan. 6, 2016 (Photo by Tony Webster)

“Investors are increasingly aware of the dangers of climate change and its impact on companies and our portfolios,” said Tim Smith, director of environmental, social and governance, or ESG, shareowner engagement at Walden Asset Management. “Companies and investors working together have a central role in implementing climate solutions. A price on carbon would create the market signals needed to drive clean energy investments, grow the job market and strengthen the American economy. It is a critical tool in U.S. efforts to address climate change.”

From the ice cream sector, Christopher Miller, advocacy manager at Ben & Jerry’s, said today, “At Ben & Jerry’s, we are committed to doing our part to reduce our carbon footprint within our operations and supply chain, but we can’t solve the problem on our own. We understand the transition to a low-carbon economy requires strong leadership from businesses and our political leaders in Washington, D.C—and we know that carbon pricing is a powerful tool that to help us keep climate change in check.”

Naturally, companies involved in the snow sports industry are well represented.

Nick Sargent, president of Snowsports Industries America, said, “As the trade association for the $72 billion snow sports industry, it is our responsibility to take action against climate change. Snowsports Industries America is committed to using our influence and mobilizing our members to drive smart, and urgent climate policy.”

Skiing Snowmass, Aspen, Colorado, Feb. 8, 2019 (Photo by Kevin Chang)

Matthew Hamilton, sustainability director at Aspen Skiing Company, said, “Climate change poses a direct threat to the outdoor recreation industry, both in our home state of Colorado and across the country. That is why Aspen Skiing Company is committed to delivering on our goal of reducing our carbon emissions 25 percent by 2020. A well-designed price on carbon is another critical tool in U.S. efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and tackle climate change while protecting the economy and the longevity of our industry.”

Francois Goulet, CEO of the French ski manufacturer Rossignol, said, “The ski industry is on the front lines of climate change, and our business is starting to feel the impacts of increasingly unpredictable seasons. As an industry that contributes $72 billion to the U.S. economy, and as a leading brand within this industry, Rossignol is committed to leveraging our influence to address climate change head-on.”

Not only are some Europe-based companies signing on, such as Rossignol and the Dutch company Unilever, but a distinct contrast between Canadian and U.S. carbon pricing attitudes is clearly illustrated by Arran Stephens, co-founder and co-CEO of Nature’s Path Organic Foods.

“At Nature’s Path, we see the impact of climate change to business,” Stephens said. “From droughts in North Dakota impacting our oats supply to severe weather in California impacting our ability to source organic raisins, rice and almonds domestically. It’s time for business and government to work together to implement policies to bring positive change to our planet, and I believe it begins with a national price on carbon.”

“We have two major manufacturing facilities in the United States and call British Columbia, Canada home where a carbon tax has been successfully introduced in 2008,” Stephens explained. “This tax encourages companies to adapt and make meaningful changes to energy use.”

“As a result, BC’s real GDP grew 2.3 percent in 2018 – among the highest in Canada and above the country’s national average of 2.1 percent. And for almost two years, BC has experienced the lowest unemployment rate in Canada,” he said.

“I am proud to say that as a result, B.C. reached its first greenhouse gas emissions reduction target of six percent below 2007 levels by 2012, as set out in the Province’s Climate Action Plan,” said Stephens. “The future of our businesses, of our economy and our families depend on us working together to take bold action.”

And then there are companies embraced by customers around the world – companies like the online auction giant eBay. J. Renée Morin, responsible business lead with eBay, said, “eBay is committed to improving our environmental footprint while supporting a more inclusive, sustainable, and circular economy. That is why we are actively working toward our goal to use 100 percent renewable energy in our electricity supply by 2025 at our data centers and our offices—and also why eBay supports policy action to help us tackle climate change.”

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2019. All rights reserved.


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