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Does Climate Leaders' Phase Down Mean We Have to Face the Cold?

The Climate Leaders Program, a voluntary partnership between companies and the agency that started in 2002, has lost its usefulness in the eyes of EPA, if you read between the lines of the agency's Sept. 15 press release.

"The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that it will phase down services the agency offers under its Climate Leaders program over the coming year and encourage participating companies to transition to state or non-governmental programs. Factoring into the agency's plans for the program are the many new developments in regulatory and voluntary programs that address greenhouse gas emissions, including the first-ever mandatory greenhouse gas reporting rule that took effect on Jan. 1, 2010. In addition, several states and non-governmental organizations now offer climate programs that are now robust enough to serve companies in the Climate Leaders program."

Now reporting will be mandatory, not voluntary, so the entire playing field has changed. EPA is encouraging Climate Leaders to go beyond mandatory requirements but with a different partner. (Do you remember Performance Track?)

More than 180 companies have attached themselves to the program; some of them have developed greenhouse gas reduction goals while several, including EPA, have not. Current climate partners got a letter (pdf) from Gina McCarthy, assistant administrator in the Office of Air and Radiation, explaining the situation and promising to talk further Oct. 5-6 in New Orleans.

According to the EPA website, partner companies commit to reducing their impact on the global environment by completing a corporate-wide inventory of their greenhouse gas emissions, setting long-term reduction goals, and annually reporting their progress to EPA. Apparently you could have done this without the agency, but you may not have enjoyed the same level of credibility by doing so. Now, EPA is in "disengage mode." Will that erode confidence in the replacement programs?

On one hand, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson is sharing how important the program is in a video presentation and on the other; the agency is releasing its hold on it.

Just so you know, this year's goal setters are Boise Cascade, Honeywell Inc., Harrah's Entertainment, Inc., Jackson National Life Ins. Co., Kimberly-Clark Corp., Kodak, Limited Brands, Inc., Meredith Corp., Publix Super Markets, Inc., Tate Access Floors, and Teradata Corporation.

Is it feeling a bit chilly to you?

Posted by L.K. Williams, EPonline on Sep 16, 2010

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