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We are washing away the foundations of our existence on every front. It is high time we move from crashing about on the planet like a bull in china shop and find a way to go forward with intent. We must find systems of living based on sustainability. The systems and tools exist, it is up to each of us to adopt them.

Blog Archive

Friday, 9 October 2009

"Green" companies still supporting US Chamber psuedoscience.

The US Chamber of Commerce represents, to me at least, unbridled consumerism, the erosion of personal rights in favor of corporate power, and the kind of business ethic that has created sprawl, traffic congestion, and an unstable debt based economy. As reported over at Climate Progress, companies are leaving other denier organizations;

PG&E, the major west coast energy supplier has issued this statement,

"We find it dismaying that the Chamber neglects the indisputable fact that a decisive majority of experts have said the data on global warming are compelling and point to a threat that cannot be ignored. In our opinion, an intellectually honest argument over the best policy response to the challenges of climate change is one thing; disingenuous attempts to diminish or distort the reality of these challenges are quite another...."

I've posted before about green consumerism, greenwashing, and corporate sponsored media deception, and even a recent post on the companies leaving the US Chamber of Commerce over the Chamber's devotion to 19th century business principles. But what about the companies that are sticking with the Chamber and it's psuedoscience?

Several companies that have worked hard to gain "green" reputation seem unwilling to take the chamber to task. As reported over at Mother Jones;

"According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, at least 18 remaining members of the Chamber’s board publicly support federal climate policy. Bruce Freed, the president of the Center for Public Accountability, a shareholder activism group, is urging them to distance themselves from the Chamber. "Where there is a fundamental disagreement with company values, with company business strategies," he says, "companies really do need to act on that. Its a matter of companies holding their trade associations accountable."

The article goes on to discuss 6 major "green" companies that are sticking with the Chamber of Denial;
  • "PNC Financial Services

The nation’s fifth largest bank, PNC controls a whopping $291 billion in assets, including a 35 percent stake in the high-profile investment group BlackRock. ... “Over the past decade, we’ve become one of the most active companies in the nation when it comes to doing good for the environment,” says the PNC website. ... BlackRock recently signed a statement calling for a global climate treaty that would slash emissions by 50 to 80 percent by 2050. “As one of the most progressive green companies in the nation,” PNC says, “we’re constantly looking for new ways to help the environment.”

Except, apparently, when it comes to using its considerable leverage inside the US Chamber of Commerce. ...

  • Alpha Technologies Inc.

Alpha Technologies Inc, a member of the Chamber’s board of directors, manufactures solar panels that it says address the “growing concern” over climate change. Is Alpha concerned enough to raise a stink on the Chamber's board? An Alpha spokesman didn’t return repeated calls. ...

  • Duke Energy

Duke Energy, the large southern electric utility, is one of at least seven Chamber members—six of them members of the board--that are also members of the US Climate Action Partnership, a group that wrote the framework for the Waxman-Markey climate bill. According to an anonymous source, several of these USCAP members sat down recently with Chamber president Tom Donohue to ask him to change the Chamber’s climate stance but were rebuffed. USCAP members PG&E, Excelon, and PNM Resources later quit the Chamber. But Duke Energy, General Electric, ConocoPhillips, Caterpillar, Siemens Corporation, Dow, and Alcoa have stayed on.

... Last month, the utility earned kudos from environmentalists when it quit the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, a coal industry front group. “We believe ACCCE is constrained by influential member companies who will not support passing climate change legislation in 2009 or 2010,” the company said in a statement. Duke also cited differences over climate policy in leaving the National Association of Manufacturers earlier this year. But though the Chamber is likewise unlikely to back a climate bill, Duke is sitting tight.

“We think it’s important to stay a member because we do agree on some things,” said Duke Energy spokesman Tom Williams. ...

  • Siemens Corporation

The front page of Siemens’ website features a panoramic photograph of windmills on a grassy plain. Clicking on the image reveals a US map studded with examples of the company’s work to save the planet: building the Smart Grid, helping a Manhattan skyscraper use 30 percent less energy than its neighbors, and, of course, manufacturing wind turbines. “We’re convinced that policymakers and industry alike must address climate change by actively pursuing integrated strategies,” says Siemens’ 2008 sustainability report. .... Siemens, unlike some other members of USCAP, hasn’t publicly confronted or disavowed the Chamber’s approach. Of course, Siemens is also in the business of constructing oil drilling rigs and pipelines. A company spokesman did not return a call.

  • General Electric

General Electric's Ecoimagination campaign is much more than a marketing gimmick. Last year, its 80 climate-friendly Ecoimagination products--everything from wind turbines to halogen light bulbs--generated $17 billion in revenues. Next year GE plans to boost those earnings to $25 billion while investing $1.5 billion in cleaner R&D. It has also pledged to cut its own greenhouse gas emissions 1 percent below 2004 levels by 2012. "Climate change requires a long-term path for significantly reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions," GE says on its website. "Developing more energy- and fuel-efficient products and technologies is an important step, as is rethinking our own operations to use resources wisely."

But does rethinking its own operations include its use of the Chamber of Commerce? "We don't see the sense of urgency that we believe is necessary in their views on climate legislation," spokesman Peter O'Toole said, but added that GE didn't want to leave the group because its agrees with its stance on health care and financial regulation. He also pointed out that many of GE's industrial customers burn coal and other fossil fuels.

Asked if GE sits on the Chamber's 60-member Energy and Environment committee, which is supposed to oversee its climate policies, O'Toole didn't know. "If the answer is yes, I would 100 percent guarantee. . .that we advocate loudly and vigorously in any meeting of the Chamber for urgent action on the climate," he said. After pledging to investigate GE's membership on the committee and the actions it took there, he never called back.

  • Johnson & Johnson

In May Johnson & Johnson and Nike sent a letter to the Chamber asking it to refrain from speaking about climate change unless its comments reflect "the full range of views" of its members. Yet the Chamber went right on speaking out against climate legislation while insisting that it represented "more than 3 million businesses and organizations of every size, sector, and region." Exasperated, Nike quit the Chamber's board late last month in a strongly-worded letter. Johnson & Johnson's response has been more tepid.

Johnson & Johnson exhibited courage in challenging the powerful Chamber, but that might not be enough for its more eco-minded customers. Presumably, it's still funding the Chamber's activities through its dues. A non-irritating baby shampoo is nice. Seeing that baby inherit a non-irritating climate is even better."

Whether or not these companies deserve the "green" label was quite debatable prior to this revelation and the decision to stand firm with the backward looking Chamber further erodes confidence in their commitment to addressing climate change. I give them credit for their efforts thus far but they need to take the next step and join the exodus from the US Chamber of Commerce. If they are unwilling to do so it would seem that their efforts are really about profit, not the health of the climate.

You can take a stand on this issue and sign a petition that thanks APPLE computer for standing up to the US Chamber of Commerce and repudiating its shameful stance.


Anonymous said...

The companies which have left the CoC did so because staying would cost them money. Most of the utilities which left are nuclear producers, which stand to gain billions in tax subsidies from cap&trade. The companies which stay with the CoC are doing so becuse Cap&trade will likely hurt them in some way. This is not rocket science here. Just follow the subsidies or public perception and all of these companies are making hte correct decisions. It's about making the money, it has nothing to do with the morality or ethics of saving the planet. get real.

C Robb said...

Hard to argue with that. Corporations and ethics rarely coexist. Even if they don't stand to significantly benefit from cap and trade, Apple?, there is certainly the marketing power of making the move, to be seen to be taking a righteous stance. But in any case it is an important stance to take as it is high time to get beyond intentionally misleading positions from those in a position of influence.