Wednesday, April 6, 2011

350.org and Business

Bill McKibben and 350.org have some ambitious plans to get the business community involved with efforts to reduce CO2 emissions. The business community is responsible for a large amount of the CO2 being pumped into the atmosphere, if we are to achieve necessary reductions business people have a critical role to play in shaping a more sustainable economy.

Many business people know that regulatory standards send clear market signals to investors and entrepreneurs about new opportunities. The current climate of uncertainty does not serve the business community. Numerous product innovations, clean energy investments and new service offerings will flow from a consistent EPA effort to regulate greenhouse emissions. As many states across America have demonstrated, policies that address greenhouse-gas emissions do not impair economic growth. To the contrary, they enhance it by attracting venture and institutional investors and new high technology and manufacturing companies.

In a conference call with Bill McKibben and the 350 team, The Green Market's Richard Matthews asked what 350.org is doing to help support the business community to combat climate change. Bill McKibben answered the question by saying, "it is really important to get businesses and business people involved that is why we are getting chambers of commerce involved." He went on to say, "capitalism is supposed to be innovative flexible and creative,[and] most business people are prepared to consider energy powered by the sun and the wind."

McKibben wants to get businesses to sign up to support efforts to combat climate change through a campaign that targets the US Chamber of Commerce. Rather than represent small businesses, the Chamber is actually a giant lobbying machine, spending more money to influence the political process than anyone else in Washington.

As indicated on the 350.org site, "The Chamber is controlled by big polluters, poisons politics with its dirty money and opposes every single effort to curb climate pollution."

As well known author and New York Times journalist Thomas Friedman said, "All shareholders should be asking CEOs why they still belong to the Chamber."

The Chamber has opposed every piece of legislation designed to slow the onset of global warming—in recent months it has tried to block the EPA from enforcing the Clean Air Act, arguing that global warming would be “on balance beneficial to humans” because fewer people would freeze to death and that in any event “populations can acclimatize to warmer climates via a range of range of behavioral, physiological, and technological adaptations.”

The US chamber of commerce spent 132 million dollars on lobbying in 2010. The Chamber gets more than half of its funding form 16 anonymous corporate donors. Of the companies that donated to the Chamber, $1 million came from the Fox Broadcasting Network. Fox host Glenn Beck urged his viewers to donate to the Chamber—and a US Chamber official called in to his program to thank him for his support.

Of the 32 million dollars the US Chamber of Commerce spent on the 2010 midterm election, 90 percent went to Republican candidates who are climate deniers.

Historically the Chamber has been on the wrong side of some major issues. They supported Joseph McCarthy in perpetuating the red scare, they also fought against American involvement in World War ll, civil rights, disabled rights and now clean air.

Local business chambers are increasingly at odds with the US Chamber. Local chambers of commerce have cut their ties in cities like Seattle, New York, and San Francisco as well as states like Florida, South Carolina, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and Washington.

More than a thousand businesses have also abandoned the Chamber, they include a wide range of companies from small businesses to international corporations like Apple, Nike, Microsoft, Levi-Strauss, Best Buy, and General Electric. For a map of businesses who are saying that the US Chamber of Commerce does not speak for them click here.

When Nike relinquished its position on the Chamber's board of directors it said, "We fundamentally disagree with the US Chamber of Commerce on climate change." When Apple resigned their position on the Chamber's board of directors they released the following statement, "Apple supports regulating greenhouse gases, it is frustrating to find that the Chamber at odds with us in that effort." Click here for a complete list of statements from those who disagree with the US Chamber of Commerce.

For more information read Bill McKibben’s Huffington Post piece on the US Chamber “The Gang That Couldn’t Lobby Straight

Its time to develop a national movement and strong political voice for sustainability-minded companies. Responsible and sustainability minded companies can play a major role in making the argument that emasculated regulatory agencies, corporate oil and gas subsidies and tax cuts for millionaires will neither generate jobs nor foster a competitive economy. Join 350.org in standing with small business owners, local chambers of commerce and people all over the country. Sign up to the 350 campaign to say, "The US Chamber of Commerce Doesn't Speak For Me."

Become part of the American Sustainable Business Council to help build a more vibrant, just and sustainable American economy or join the many other organizations that are working at the national, state and local level.

To find out more about what businesses can do click here. You can also start or join a local team and recruit local businesses to declare, “The US Chamber Doesn’t Speak For Me.”

See the facebook page for The US Chamber of Commerce Doesn't Speak For Me and post the following Tweet on Twitter The US Chamber Doesn't Speak For Me http://t.co/i7jbw0v.

© 2011, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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