Leading U.S. Companies Unveil Climate Change Policy Position

Business Roundtable, an association of 160 chief executive officers of leading U.S. companies, announced a new policy statement on climate change, acknowledging that climate change poses a serious risk and that the time for action is now.

After reviewing the science, the policy statement concludes that "the consequences of global warming for society and ecosystems are potentially serious and far-reaching" and that "steps to address the risks of such warming are prudent now even while the science continues to evolve." The roundtable's new policy statement, announced on July 17, proposes a series of benchmarks and principles against which climate change policy proposals should be measured.

"Today marks the first time that a broad cross-section of business leaders from every sector of the U.S. economy have reached consensus on the risks posed by climate change and the need for action," said John J. Castellani, president, Business Roundtable. "The Business Roundtable's diverse membership stands ready to work with policymakers on proactive solutions that address climate change while sustaining economic growth."

The climate change position was developed through a consensus-driven process led by Business Roundtable's CEO members that included outreach to senior members of Congress and leading climate scientists. Chad Holliday, chairman and CEO, DuPont, and chairman of Business Roundtable's Environment, Technology and the Economy Task Force, commented: "The thinking of U.S. CEOs on climate change is evolving significantly. A growing number of CEOs view it as a major issue for their companies and many of us have called for timely U.S. action."

The policy statement calls for "collective action that will lead to the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions on a global basis, with the goal of slowing increases in greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere and ultimately stabilizing them at levels that will address the risks of climate change."

As a starting point for efforts to achieve this goal, roundtable members agree that:

  • More companies should commit to making emission reductions a priority and report on their progress in achieving these reductions.
  • An improved national registry for reporting emissions and documenting reductions would stimulate additional progress by industry.
  • Government policies should encourage early action and investment to reduce emissions and improve energy efficiency.
  • Increasing energy efficiency is a proven and cost-effective strategy for reducing emissions and should be a priority for business and government.
  • The development and deployment of energy-efficient, low GHG technologies is vital to long-term emission reductions.
  • Research, development and deployment investment in new low-GHG technologies must be increased in the public and private sectors to levels commensurate with the climate challenge.
  • Investment in climate science must be continued at a high level so that we can better understand and predict the magnitude and timing of future warming.

Roundtable members have differing views on the policy tools (e.g. cap-and-trade, carbon taxes, emission or product standards) under consideration by policymakers, but are proposing a series of benchmarks and principles against which climate change policy proposals by the U.S. Congress or the Bush administration should be measured. The Roundtable will provide a sounding board for policymakers on the pros, cons and impacts of different proposals as the legislative process moves forward.

Since 2003, Business Roundtable has led the Climate RESOLVE (Responsible, Environmental Steps, Opportunities to Lead by Voluntary Efforts) program that encourages member companies to take voluntary action to reduce, avoid or sequester greenhouse gas emissions. Climate RESOLVE has spurred greater awareness of climate issues in the business community and motivated many companies to develop policies and strategies for managing its emissions. One-hundred and one companies are now participating in Climate RESOLVE. The Roundtable is today releasing the names of all Climate RESOLVE participants.

To read Business Roundtable's Climate Change Position Paper or view its Climate RESOLVE participants and learn more about the program, visit http://www.businessroundtable.org.

Business Roundtable is an association of chief executive officers of leading U.S. companies with $4.5 trillion in annual revenues and more than 10 million employees. Member companies comprise nearly a third of the total value of the U.S. stock markets and represent more 40 percent of all corporate income taxes paid. Collectively, they returned $112 billion in dividends to shareholders and the economy in 2005.

This article originally appeared in the 07/01/2007 issue of Environmental Protection.

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