Businesses for a Healthy Climate is a new coalition of businesses and nonprofit organizations, led by the Wind Energy Foundation, focused on educating the public and decision makers about the business imperative of addressing climate change at the national level through carbon pricing. Our coalition is the only educational campaign in the nation working to bring together decision makers, community leaders and businesses in their home states to discuss the need for a national price on carbon emissions. We are currently piloting our approach in New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.
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The Business Imperative of Addressing Climate Change at the National Level
Rising sea-levels, intensified flooding, heat waves, and other impacts of climate change pose a serious risk to existing business assets and future economic activity. Business leaders working to pass on a healthy economy to future generations know that the U.S. can and should be doing more to reduce the carbon pollution that is driving climate change and to shift to clean energy sources.
Bipartisan Congressional support for action on climate change is essential for securing these needed large-scale reductions in U.S. carbon pollution. Although private, local, and state actions and federal administrative policies are critically important, they alone cannot drive the pace and scale of reductions needed to avoid warming the planet by 2 degrees Celsius – the threshold into severe, widespread and irreversible [climate] impacts that world leaders have agreed we must not cross. Congress must act if the nation is to make its fair share of emissions reductions, gain the moral authority it needs to secure commitments from other actors on the international stage, and ratify its own commitments in the international arena.
U.S Business Leaders – Well-Positioned to Make a Difference
Today’s U.S. business leaders – the innovators who are focusing on the medium- and long-term future, not just the next quarterly earnings report — are well-positioned to create the conditions needed for Congress to act. These leaders have the knowledge and experience needed to educate the public and decision makers about the jobs and investments that will flow into their communities as the nation shifts to a clean energy economy, and they can speak knowledgeably about the severe costs of intensifying storms and floods, heat waves and other impacts of failure to act on climate change.
Our Strategy – Building Consensus Around a Mainstream Economic Principle
The strategy of Businesses for a Healthy Climate is to avoid promoting specific legislative solutions, but instead to build consensus around a mainstream economic principle – that no business should be allowed to shift the costs of its pollution onto other businesses and the general public, as is now the case. Virtually any national carbon price aimed at ensuring that businesses pay for the pollution they create would make a meaningful contribution to reducing carbon pollution. Legislative details, such as whether the carbon price is delivered through a tax or fee or whether the revenues from the tax or fee should be used to offset tax cuts or allocated to consumer rebates, will be set aside for discussion at another time. Our coalition welcomes anyone interested in building a consensus on carbon pricing, regardless of where they stand on the mechanics of how the price is achieved.
Why Businesses are Becoming Increasingly Active on Carbon Pricing
We believe there is enormous potential to harness the power of the business voice on carbon pricing because there is such widespread agreement in the business community to the fundamental principle that it is wrong to allow a company to shift the costs of its carbon pollution off of its books and onto the public. Many leading corporations support this idea and over 150 major organizations are designing business plans that assume a price will ultimately be imposed on their carbon pollution.
Businesses know that a bipartisan, market-based solution is the one most likely to have staying power and provide them and their investors with the certainty they need to plan for the future. In contrast, continued gridlock in Congress creates uncertainty and fear among investors that more radical policy solutions will ultimately need to be imposed to address climate change. Businesses also know from their own experiences with clean energy that with the right market signals, they are very capable of launching a new generation of investments in low-carbon and climate-resilient technologies.
Launching an Overdue Conversation
Some people are legitimately skeptical that Congress will act on climate change in the foreseeable future, but unfortunately this skepticism often degenerates into cynicism, which in turn results in a failure to do the hard work needed to get our democratic institution moving again. Businesses for a Healthy Climate provides an antidote to this cynicism. Our coalition is launching overdue conversations about the need for bipartisan federal action on climate change. The founders of this country would never have imagined that Congress would not be engaged in a conversation about how to address what virtually all experts consider to be one of the top threats to the nation’s economic security. We consider this inaction to be unsupportable and unsustainable.
Our coalition believes that the place to restart the conversation about bipartisan action on climate change is at the community level. When community leaders, decision makers and everyday citizens hear about the climate change problem from the very businesses that are delivering jobs and investments in their communities, and when they hear that a market-based solution is readily at hand to address it, they will agree that there is no longer any excuse for inaction.