Business leaders react to Obama's climate plan

Scores of business leaders are applauding the climate action plan President Barack Obama unveiled on Tuesday. His agenda calls for cutting carbon emissions by power plants, expanding renewable energy on federal lands, and boosting energy efficiency and green building projects. He announced less specific goals to prepare communities for the effects of climate change.

“A low-carbon, clean energy economy can be an engine of growth for decades to come," Obama said. "And I want America to build that engine."

Here is a roundup of some of the more notable reactions from business leaders and corporate groups. Some of these voices come from the group BICEP (Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy), led by Ceres, which has more reactions here.

Chris Harrington, Toshiba America's chief corporate social responsibility officer:

“It seemed as if special effects were supplied by Mother Nature as President Obama -- jacket off, sleeves up, handkerchief in hand -- delivered his climate change policy speech at Georgetown University under podium warming -- if not global warming -- heat ... Every day, major corporations are making new commitments to not only energy efficiency and use of clean energy, but increased recycling, reduction of use of hazardous substances, and better environmental management. This trend in the private sector may be the most powerful weapon against climate change.”

Anna Walker, Levi Strauss & Co.’s senior director of government affairs and public policy:

“The president’s call to action rings true and reminds us that the obligation of tackling climate change rests not on the White House alone, but on all sectors, communities and countries.”

Hannah Jones, Nike’s vice president of sustainable business & innovation:

“Nike applauds President Obama’s leadership to mitigate climate change. We look forward to reviewing the details of the president’s plans and working with the administration, Congress and other businesses to move forward on strategies to address climate change. Now is the time to work together on an innovative, bold framework.”

Brad Figel, Mars North America’s vice president of public affairs:

“Climate change has implications for the production of agricultural ingredients from corn to cocoa, and addressing it requires changes to the way we source materials and manufacture our products. Therefore, it is imperative we continue to improve sustainability in our approach to business, as well as the way we create policy.”

The American Sustainable Business Council:

“We believe the president’s plan, with its focus on climate adaptation programs, efficiency standards for homes and appliances, greater renewable energy development on public lands and regulating carbon pollution, will build a more resilient and market-based transition to a clean energy economy. This in turn will boost investment and create jobs. Addressing climate change now will create new economic opportunities and will allow the U.S. to remain competitive. It’s an investment worth making.”

Rhone Resch, The Solar Energy Industries Association's CEO:

“This is a watershed moment in our nation’s history. It’s indisputable. Climate change threatens our economy, our future progress, our health and safety, and even our way of life. ... Despite what some critics say, this isn’t a choice between clean energy and a robust economy. We can have both, and solar is showing how to make that possible.”

Jim Greenwood, The Biotechnology Industry Organization's president and CEO:

"Biotechnology enables energy efficiency and use of renewable resources in manufacturing and fuels as well as increased productivity on our agricultural lands. We are encouraged by the president's plan to use advanced biofuels to help reduce CO2 emissions in the transportation sector. We thank President Obama for recognizing that biotechnology can play a positive role in addressing our shared environmental concerns."

However, not every business interest was on board. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce objected to Obama not approving the Keystone XL oil pipeline if it increases greenhouse gas emissions.

Karen Harbert, president and CEO of its Institute for 21st Century Energy:

“His decision will send a clear message to American workers as to whether he really cares about jobs, and it will send a clear message to our allies as to whether America is a dependable and trustworthy friend.”

The coal industry, of course, also spoke against the president's plan.

Robert Duncan, CEO and president, American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity:

"The coal-fueled electricity industry has demonstrated its commitment to the environment by investing more than $100 billion, so far, to produce cleaner electricity...If the Obama administration fails to recognize the environmental progress the industry has made and continues to adopt more regulations, coal power could cease to exist which would be devastating for our economy."

U.S. Capitol image by Konstantin L/Shutterstock