Practicing Responsible Policy EngagementCeres
Record high temperatures are triggering more damaging and costlier extreme weather events, including unprecedented wildfires, hurricanes, and flooding. Global carbon dioxide emissions are rising again after falling briefly during the early days of the pandemic. Scientists say we have less than a decade to reverse emissions levels before devastating climate impacts become irreversible.
Against this backdrop, we have an unprecedented opportunity: a new U.S. administration that has made climate action a top priority. Immediately upon entering office, President Joseph Biden Jr. announced that the U.S. would rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement. In April 2021, the White House announced that the U.S. would reduce greenhouse gas pollution by 50 – 52% from 2005 levels by 2030. New and ambitious climate change policies are integral to meeting this goal.
Corporate America is uniquely positioned in this context. U.S. companies do not just power the country’s economy, they also wield enormous influence both nationally and globally, and are critical messengers on climate change policy. Yet, despite growing evidence that underlines the degree to which inaction on climate change will damage the economy and corporate bottom lines, corporate lobbying for science-based climate change policies remains lackluster. Even as more large U.S. companies are taking steps to address climate change in their own operations, including setting emissions reduction goals, their advocacy for climate change policies often does not match the ambition of their individual commitments, and even more often fails to match the ambition demanded by climate science. Further, in some instances, companies and their trade associations are even lobbying against the adoption of meaningful climate policies, ultimately undermining conditions that would enable companies to meet their climate goals.
The role of the corporate community is more important than ever. To achieve a net zero emissions future and mitigate the financial impacts of a changing climate, companies need to publicly advocate for the swift passage of climate change policies and rules that appropriately recognize what is at stake. The cost of inaction is too high; staying on the sidelines or allowing climate to be framed as a partisan issue is not an option.