Nike, EMC, Ikea and other biz giants urge U.S. climate action

Nike, EMC, Ikea and other biz giants urge U.S. climate action

Some of the world's largest businesses this week called on America's political leaders to urgently accelerate efforts to build a greener economy, arguing that "tackling climate change is one of America's greatest economic opportunities of the 21st century."

Published to coincide with the release of President Barack Obama's budget plan, which includes a series of measures designed to drive low-carbon investment, the "Climate Declaration" was backed by a host of high-profile brands, such as Adidas, Ben & Jerry's, Ikea, L'Oreal, Nestle, Nike, Starbucks and Unilever, as well as a number of leading technology firms, including CA, Ebay, EMC and Intel.

The declaration, orchestrated by the Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy (BICEP) group, argues that a wide range of economic benefits may be realized from taking ambitious action to tackle climate change risks.

"In doing this right, by saving money when we use less electricity, by driving a more efficient car, by choosing clean energy, by inventing new technologies that other countries buy and creating jobs here at home, we will maintain our way of life and remain a true superpower in a competitive world," the statement reads. "In order to make this happen, however, there must be a coordinated effort to combat climate change."

The statement also criticizes climate sceptic groups seeking to undermine the green economy, arguing that "we cannot risk our kids' futures on the false hope that the vast majority of scientists are wrong."

"The signers of the Climate Declaration have a clear message for Washington: Act on climate change," said Anne Kelly, director of BICEP, in a statement. "We are, and it's good for our businesses. The cost of inaction is too high. Policymakers should see climate change policy for what it is: an economic opportunity."

Her comments were echoed by Eileen Fisher, chief executive of the apparel firm of the same name and a signatory to the declaration, who warned businesses already faced climate-related costs.

"From droughts that affect cotton crops to Hurricane Sandy, which caused extensive damage to our operations, climate affects all aspects of our business," she said. "As a socially and environmentally responsible company, we are trying to affect positive change, but business can't do it alone. We need the support of strong climate legislation."

BICEP is calling on other companies and individuals to sign up to the declaration.

The high-profile declaration comes just a week after Obama used a fundraiser event in California to call on businesses and green groups to do more to make it clear that "this notion that there's a contradiction between our economy and our environment is a false choice."

It also came as the White House released its long-awaited budget plan for fiscal 2014, featuring a host of measures designed to significantly increase low-carbon investment.

Next page:  More about the budget

The budget includes a series of spending cuts and tax increases designed to bring down the U.S. deficit to 2.8 percent of GDP by 2016 and 1.7 percent by 2023. But one area that would see a significant increase in spending is the green economy, with the budget mapping out plans to repeal up to $4 billion of fossil fuel industry tax breaks and use some of the money to increase clean tech spending by 40 percent.

The budget has little chance of being approved in its current form given fierce Republican opposition in the House of Representatives. But the high-profile support for the green economy is seen as a negotiating gambit designed to protect a wide range of clean tech funding programmes.

Under the budget proposal, the Department of Energy would see an 8 percent increase in its budget for 2014 to $28.4 billion, enabling a 24 percent increase in government support for biofuel programmes, a 5.7 percent increase in basic science research and a 29 percent increase in spending on renewable energy grid connections.

It also would confirm the popular Production Tax Credit for renewable energy projects indefinitely, removing the need for annual Congressional approval for the incentives, and enable Obama's proposal for a $200 million Energy Security Trust to fund research into more fuel efficient and zero emission vehicles.

In addition, it outlines plans for a $200 million funding competition to encourage state governments to invest in energy efficiency programs and provide new funding to help communities protect themselves from climate change impacts.

This article is reprinted with permission from BusinessGreen. 

Photo of flexed bicep provided by Cameron Whitman via Shutterstock.