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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Good Corporate Citizens: Five Major US Companies Call for Climate, Clean Energy Solutions

Nike, Starbucks, Levi Strauss, Sun Microsystems and Timberland Challenge Lawmakers to Raise the Bar for U.S.Climate and Energy Policy; Call for CO2 Emission Cuts, Clean Energy Investments, Coal Plant Limits

Today, five leading US companies joined Ceres investment group to launch a new coalition of corporate citizens calling on Congress to quickly enact strong U.S. climate and energy legislation that will spark a new clean energy economy and reduce global warming pollution. The new coalition issued several key principles for climate policy today, including proposals to stimulate renewable energy, promote energy efficiency and green jobs, cap global warming pollution and auction 100% of pollution allowances, and limit new coal-fired power plants to those that capture and store carbon emissions.

The group, which includes Nike, Starbucks, Levi Strauss, Sun Microsystems and Timberland, calls themselves Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy, or BICEP for short, and aims to flex some lobbying muscle to support climate and clean energy action.

The coalition’s goal is to work directly with key allies in the business community and members of Congress to pass meaningful energy and climate change legislation consistent with the following eight core principles:

  • Set greenhouse gas reduction targets to at least 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 and 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

  • Establish an economy-wide GHG cap-and-trade system that auctions 100 percent of carbon pollution allowances, promotes energy efficiency and accelerates clean energy technologies.

  • Establish aggressive energy efficiency policies to achieve at least a doubling of our historic rate of energy efficiency improvement.

  • Encourage transportation for a clean energy economy by promoting fuel-efficient vehicles, plug-in electric hybrids, low-carbon fuels, and transit-oriented development.

  • Increase investment in energy efficiency, renewables and carbon capture and storage technologies while eliminating subsidies for fossil-fuel industries.

  • Stimulate job growth through investment in climate-based solutions, especially “green-collar” jobs in low-income communities and others vulnerable to climate change’s economic impact.

  • Adopt a national renewable portfolio standard requiring 20 percent of electricity to be generated from renewable energy sources by 2020, and 30 percent by 2030.

  • Limit construction of new coal-fired power plants to those that capture and store carbon emissions, create incentives for carbon capture technology on new and existing plants, and phase out existing coal-based power plants that do not capture and store carbon by 2030.

  • Recognizing that climate change will ripple across all sectors of the economy BICEP members aim to offer new business perspectives on climate solutions to balance the sometimes narrow viewpoints offered by some of the more engaged members of the business community.

    BICEP members also apparently recognize that being a good corporate citizen requires more than just purchasing carbon offsets and building more sustainable products. Like individual citizens, a real commitment to a new energy future requires more than personal actions, it requires active participation in the political process.

    “We can voluntarily change our own behavior in the hopes of mitigating impacts and are doing so," said Hilary Krane, senior vice president of corporate affairs at Levi Strauss & Co., "but we also believe that U.S. government leadership is essential if we are to create an environment in which every U.S. company recognizes the role it must play in addressing climate change."

    "Nike understands the value of investing in innovative solutions to address the challenges of sustainability," added Sarah Severn a corporate responsibility director with the company, "so we are proud to be part of a coalition of companies that believes legislative action on climate change and clean energy is not only urgent but imperative to creating positive, long-term change."

    As a native Oregonian, I can't help but contrast Beaverton, OR-based Nike's active commitment to good corporate citizenship with Oregon's other major employer: Intel. The microprocessor giant is Oregon's largest private employer, and while it launches ads touting their efficient processor designs and issues press releases about renewable energy purchases, Intel quietly lobbies to block progressive energy and climate policy at the Oregon legislature.

    Intel is a key member of the Industrial Customers of Northwest Utilities group, a state lobbying organization that represents large electricity and natural gas users in Oregon and Washington. ICNU has consistently been on the wrong side of good energy policy - from the Oregon Renewable Energy Act of 2007 to the state's efforts to lead on climate policy - and is now forming a front-group called something like Oregon Industries for Balanced Climate Policy, gearing up to block progressive legislation in the 2009 Oregon legislature.

    Unlike Nike, who puts it's lobbying muscle behind it's clean energy commitments, Intel tacitly and at times actively supports ICNU's efforts to stand in the way of Oregon's transformation into a clean energy leader. Intel should take queues from fellow Oregonians, Nike, and their semiconductor competitors at Sun about what good corporate citizenship means, and actively distance itself from ICNU's dirty deeds.

    Until then, bravo to Nike and the BICEP members for leading the way.

    1 comment:

    Anonymous said...

    Thanks for this post, cool to see a few large companies taking such a proactive and progressive lead on climate change. Especially, considering strong climate legislation does not directly relate to their fiscal bottom line.