While opponents of a clean-energy economy try to frame both climate legislation and the US Climate Action Partnership (USCAP) as dead wood, today Weyerhaeuser—the multi-billion dollar forest products company—confounded those voices in announcing it has joined the USCAP coalition. The company has long had a commitment to address climate change, and it has been an active member of our Business Environmental Leadership Council for nearly twelve years.
This is more than a lone green shoot, as Weyerhaeuser joins an ever-growing chorus of companies calling for the U.S. economy to regain its competitive edge rather than let other countries corner the emerging global clean-energy market. Weyerhaeuser, like the 24 companies in USCAP, 46 companies in BELC, 65+ companies on the recent Wall Street Journal and Politico ad and the over 2600 companies in the American Business for Clean Energy Coalition, all understand that we can protect our natural resources and future generations from climate change, while creating American jobs, taking back control of our own energy future, and enhancing our national security.
The business community is leading on the issue—now we need the Senate to follow.
Tim Juliani is Director of Corporate Engagement in the Markets & Business Strategy group
Domestically and internationally, climate action in 2009 laid critical groundwork for potential breakthroughs in Congress and global negotiations in 2010. Yet with an issue as complex and political as climate change, turning groundwork into policy is a challenge. 2010 will undoubtedly be a pivotal year for climate change – but first it is instructive to take a look back at what happened in 2009 and how that shaped where we are today.
We captured these highlights in our annual Year-in-Review Newsletter – a useful compilation of 2009’s big climate change stories and related insights. The year’s major domestic action included passage of the landmark House climate and clean energy bill along with numerous Obama administration efforts to improve our climate and economy. These accomplishments included the stimulus bill’s $80 billion in clean energy-related funding and EPA actions, including the endangerment finding, the greenhouse gas reporting rule, and stricter auto-efficiency standards.
Copenhagen consumed international climate attention in 2009, culminating in the pre-dawn hours of December 19 when final touches were put on an accord directly brokered by President Obama and a handful of key developing country leaders. While many questions remain after Copenhagen, our summary of the conference provides a sound starting point for grasping what transpired at the year’s largest climate event.
The lead-up to 2009’s main events required a great deal of work, and some of the year’s highlights include the detailed Blueprint for Climate Action released one year ago this month by the influential business-NGO coalition U.S. Climate Action Partnership (USCAP). More industry leaders also showed support for mandatory climate action by joining our Business Environmental Leadership Council (BELC). And efforts to reach business communities, employees, and families expanded through the Make An Impact program. In partnerships with aluminum manufacturer Alcoa and utility Entergy, we continue to provide individuals with strategies to save energy and money while protecting the environment.
We continued to educate policy makers and opinion leaders, producing reports, analyses, and fact sheets on topics ranging from clean-energy technologies, climate science, competitiveness, and adaptation. Featuring expert insights and thoughtful opinions, we informed broad audiences about the immediate need for climate action. And our timely, relevant work moves forward in 2010 as we seek progress in addressing the most important global issue of our time.
Tom Steinfeldt is Communications Manager
As President Obama called for U.S. leadership in clean energy technology in a speech at MIT Friday, up on Capitol Hill members of the U.S. Climate Action Partnership (USCAP) demonstrated how they’re already putting innovative ideas into practice.
At a Clean Technology Showcase, we joined six corporations and fellow USCAP members to present cutting-edge solutions to a low-carbon future. While the displays varied from solar shingles to renewably-sourced swimwear to advanced coal technology, all participants agreed that making these solutions mainstream requires enacting comprehensive energy and climate legislation. Economy-wide federal policies that put a price on carbon and deliver incentives for clean energy development and deployment are today’s big missing ingredient.
Instead of the policy talk more common to Capitol Hill, Friday’s event focused on existing and emerging solutions to our energy and climate concerns. It proved an uplifting view of the opportunities that a clean energy economy can deliver.
While Congress continues to debate health care, the business community this week continued to lead on climate change. On Tuesday, we joined 6 other NGOs and 22 companies to launch a new full-page ad supporting comprehensive clean energy and climate change legislation. Fourteen members of our Business Environmental Leadership Council (BELC) signed on to the ad, which ran in The Washington Post, The NY Times and USA Today. For several of these companies, this was the first time they have stood up so publicly to support capping carbon. Other ads from similar coalitions are running in papers all across the country.
I also want to give props to Honeywell for joining the U.S. Climate Action Partnership (USCAP). Honeywell is a $28 billion manufacturer of all types of goods from aerospace to home heating and cooling. By joining USCAP, they further demonstrate the diversity of industries that are committed to tackling climate change through the Blueprint for Legislative Action.
Over the past two weeks, three utilities – PG&E, PNM Resources, and Exelon – made public decisions not to renew their membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. These three companies are members of both our Business Environmental Leadership Council (BELC), as well as the U.S. Climate Action Partnership (USCAP), of which we are a founding member. We have been asked a lot recently to comment on the significance of these moves, and whether other companies will follow suit.
The decision by these companies to exit the chamber is another clear indication that the political dynamic surrounding climate change legislation has changed dramatically in the last several years. No longer can businesses be counted on to march in lockstep opposition to mandatory greenhouse gas legislation. In fact, today the companies involved in USCAP and other progressive business coalitions have emerged as some of the biggest and most effective supporters of comprehensive climate change legislation. Business support was critical in moving climate change to the top of the Congressional agenda, and will likely be the deciding factor in steering legislation to enactment.
While we do not comment on the internal decision-making of the companies with which we partner, in the case of PG&E, PNM Resources, and Exelon, the time had obviously come when the differences between their strong commitment to Congressional action on climate change was irreconcilably at odds with that of the Chamber. In his letter to Tom Donahue, CEO of the Chamber, PG&E CEO Peter Darbee wrote:
“A case in point is the Chamber’s recent much-publicized call to put climate change science ‘on trial.’ We find it dismaying that the Chamber neglects the indisputable fact that a decisive majority of experts have said the data on global warming are compelling and point to a threat that cannot be ignored … To the extent … the Chamber earnestly believes these questions should be heard in a courtroom, let’s recall that the U.S. Supreme Court opined on the threat of climate in a 2007 decision. ‘The harms associated with climate change are serious and well recognized,’ the Court wrote.”
The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (at the time named the Pew Center on Global Climate Change) was a founding member of the U.S. Climate Action Partnership (USCAP) — an unprecedented alliance of 22 major businesses and 5 non-governmental organizations. This diverse group of business and environmental leaders came together to call for mandatory action to address climate change.
Members include AES, Alcoa, Alstom, Boston Scientific Corporation, Chrysler, The Dow Chemical Company, Duke Energy, DuPont, Environmental Defense Fund, Exelon Corporation, Ford Motor Company, General Electric, Honeywell, Johnson & Johnson, Natural Resources Defense Council, The Nature Conservancy, NextEra Energy, NRG Energy, PepsiCo, Pew Center on Global Climate Change, PG&E Corporation, PNM Resources, Rio Tinto, Shell, Siemens Corporation, Weyerhaeuser and the World Resources Institute.
USCAP was formed in January 2007 and issued A Call for Action. This document includes a series of principles and recommendations calling for the federal government to quickly enact strong national legislation to achieve significant reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.
Since its founding, USCAP has issued additional reports and briefs:
- An extensive analysis of the economic impacts of climate change legislation (December 2, 2009)
- A Blueprint for Legislative Action provides a detailed framework for legislation to address climate change (January 15, 2009).
- For more information on USCAP’s Issue Briefs.
The Center's resources related to USCAP:
- Eileen Claussen’s Congressional testimony before the 111th Congress’s House Committee on Energy and Commerce (January 15, 2009)
- Eileen Claussen’s A Blueprint for Action op-ed in Environmental Finance (February 2009)
- Analysis Comparing USCAP Recommendations to the EU-ETS (February 2009)
- Research for A Call to Action (January, 2007)
- Statements regarding USCAP