Climate Policy is Just Good Business

The latest science makes clear the imperative of achieving carbon neutrality – a net balance between greenhouse gas emissions and withdrawals – by mid-century. Meeting that goal – or “getting to zero” – requires transformative change across society. And this will be possible only with strong business engagement.

Through our Climate Innovation 2050 initiative, C2ES been working closely with leading companies over the last two years to develop an ambitious and practical vision for decarbonizing the U.S. economy. Our latest report, Getting to Zero: A U.S. Climate Agenda, outlines the policies needed over the coming decade to put the United States on the path to carbon neutrality.

As the report itself makes clear, implementing this agenda will require strong, sustained public and political support. We’re encouraged by the many signs that momentum for ambitious action on climate is growing.

Americans across the political spectrum increasingly favor stronger climate action. A growing recognition of climate risks, as well as pressure from investors, consumers, and employees, is spurring action in boardrooms across the globe. Even the conversation in Washington reflects a growing sense of urgency.

Translating this urgency into a political consensus durable enough to combat the long-term nature of climate change is no easy task. One key is recognizing that, far from damaging our economy, ambitious action on climate actually presents a tremendous economic opportunity. The fact that so many companies are positioning themselves as leaders in the low-carbon transition is not only important – it’s extremely telling.

Our goal in Getting to Zero is to outline the broad contours of an effective long-term strategy and to identify a set of key actions that should be taken over the coming decade to put the United States firmly on the path to decarbonization.

Toward those ends, the report:

  • Examines the fundamental nature of our decarbonization challenge and recommends overarching objectives for a U.S. decarbonization strategy;
  • Outlines the core elements of a long-term climate policy framework, including policies to price carbon, accelerate innovation, mobilize finance, and ensure a just transition;
  • Outlines priority federal, state, and local policies to help decarbonize the power, transportation, industry, buildings, oil and gas, and land-use sectors;
  • Highlights policies to support technologies with significant potential across multiple sectors; and
  • Recommends ways that companies can demonstrate stronger leadership in meeting the decarbonization challenge.

Throughout the report, we offer snapshot visions of the future this agenda could help to produce and recommend a diverse array of policy approaches, intended to work together to address the many facets of the overall decarbonization challenge.

As part of a long-term policy framework, a robust carbon price will be important to reduce emissions economy-wide in the most efficient and cost-effective manner possible. But complementary policies at the federal, state, and local levels will be necessary to help mobilize private investment, deploy the necessary technologies and infrastructure, and accelerate the transition through targeted incentives.

The economic realities of climate change – good and bad – are among the key reasons we need to take urgent action on climate. They also provide a foundation for developing a durable consensus. Business leadership will be an indispensable ingredient in any recipe for long-term success in confronting the climate crisis. That’s why we’re thankful to the many companies across key sectors that contributed to the development of Getting to Zero.

Getting to Zero is meant to catalyze an important debate on what ambitious, but feasible national climate policy should look like. But it’s also a signal that businesses are – more than ever before – working to align policy and economic incentives in ways that can accelerate the transition to carbon neutrality.

It’s just good business.