“Anyone who fears that the fight against climate change suffered a fatal blow when the United States elected a climate change skeptic should spend a couple of hours with some of the business leaders who are charging ahead toward a no-carbon future,” said William C. Eacho, after he spoke at the winter conference of the U.S. Business Council for Sustainable Development (BCSD).
“The conversations I had with representatives of General Motors, Ingersoll Rand, Entergy, ABB, and many other companies boosted my confidence that we will achieve the goal that scientists say we must,” said Eacho, co-founder of the Partnership for Responsible Growth (PRG). “But that doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy.”
Eacho delivered the keynote speech at the conference, hosted by Duke’s Fuqua School of Business January 11 and 12. He made the case that with the Trump administration so fervently opposed to federal regulations, a free-market climate solution makes more sense than ever. He also pointed out that the job growth that carbon-funded tax cuts would generate, plus the boost to American global competitiveness, would appeal to President-elect Trump.
A carbon fee would provide a number of benefits besides helping us combat climate change, he told the business audience. “The new administration and the new Congress are eager to create an infrastructure program, cut taxes, and take other steps. But somehow we need to pay for these initiatives--or the national debt will shoot up even faster. A carbon fee of $35 per metric ton, with annual increases, could bring in $2 trillion over ten years. There’s no alternative revenue stream that’s even close.”
While Eacho was speaking at Duke, a coalition of eight business and environmental groups was issuing the Business Backs a Low-Carbon USA statement. More than 530 companies and 100 investors have signed the statement, addressed to President-elect Trump, President Obama, members of Congress, and “global leaders.” Business Backs a Low-Carbon USA kicked off in December 2015 with a full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal urging U.S. and international leaders to adopt an ambitious climate agreement in Paris.
The statement reads: “We, the undersigned members in the business and investor community of the United States, re-affirm our deep commitment to addressing climate change through the implementation of the historic Paris Climate Agreement.
“We want the U.S. economy to be energy efficient and powered by low-carbon energy. Cost-effective and innovative solutions can help us achieve these objectives. Failure to build a low-carbon economy puts American prosperity at risk. But the right action now will create jobs and boost US competitiveness. We pledge to do our part, in our own operations and beyond, to realize the Paris Agreement’s commitment of a global economy that limits global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius.
“We call on our elected U.S. leaders to strongly support:
1 Continuation of low-carbon policies to allow the US to meet or exceed our promised national commitment and to increase our nation’s future ambition;
2 Investment in the low carbon economy at home and abroad in order to give financial decision-makers clarity and boost the confidence of investors worldwide; and
3 Continued US participation in the Paris Agreement, in order to provide the long-term direction needed to keep global temperature rise below 2°C”.
The statement was coordinated by C2ES, Ceres, Environmental Defense Fund, Environmental Entrepreneurs, The B Team, The Climate Group,We Mean Business, and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
“We are proud supporters of a Low-Carbon USA because as the largest, most broadly based healthcare company in the world, we understand that healthy people need a healthy planet,” said Paulette Frank, VP Environment, Health, Safety & Sustainability, at Johnson & Johnson.
“Clean technology is a major engine of job growth in the United States, and is key to overcoming the challenge of climate change, said Vigilent CEO Dave Hudson. “Vigilent strongly supports continued U.S. participation in the Paris Agreement as the best means to address the climate challenge with global cooperation.”
“It is vital that the business community demonstrates its ongoing commitment to tackling climate change,” said Barry Parkin, Chief Sustainability and Health and Wellbeing Officer at Mars Incorporated. “This is an important moment in global political and economic history, and we absolutely must come together to solve the immense challenges facing the planet. Climate change, water scarcity and deforestation are serious threats to society. It is imperative that global businesses, like Mars, do their part to face down those threats.”
“It is exciting to see more and more business leaders taking action,” said Eacho. “We cannot beat climate change without such leadership. We urge all businesses to consider signing our Carbon Pricing Principles, which we put together with Ceres and a number of businesses, think tanks, and other organizations.”