Advanced Search

Please click here to take a brief survey

Why U.S. Businesses Want Strong Climate Action in Copenhagen
Mindy Lubber, 14 Dec 09

293643274_0f92d7cfdc.jpg So why are Nike, Johnson Controls and Sempra Energy sending top execs to Copenhagen to monitor the international climate talks.

To block a strong climate deal, right? No, wrong.

Dozens of U.S. companies are here advocating for a tough international pact that reduces pollution and accelerates clean energy innovation. The political uncertainty surrounding climate change regulation — both in the U.S. and globally – is stifling their businesses.

"We're looking to come out with a deal," said Clay Nesler, vice president of global energy and sustainability at Johnson Controls Inc., a Wisconsin-based company with 133,000 global employees. "We'd like to see the uncertainty reduced. Businesses around the world want this to be settled so they can start reducing their emissions."

Many of the companies here are unequivocal about the need for dramatically reducing global carbon emissions.

North Face sees the climate threat first-hand through its customers who are skiers, hikers and rock climbers. "U.S. ski resorts are closing at a dramatic pace. Our winters are two weeks shorter," said Letitia Webster, the company's director of corporate sustainability.

The company's suppliers -- including Nepalese farmers who provide soft Cashmere fabric for its clothing -- are also seeing the effects. "Droughts and flooding are impacting these communities," she said.

But, like a climber scaling the North Face in the Swiss Alps, the companies are confident of their ability — of corporate America's ability — to solve the climate challenge. They simply need the right equipment.

Even without a clear map, these firms are finding ways to lower water use, energy use and pollution levels across their entire businesses. Johnson Controls recently teamed up with Jones Lang LaSalle and the Rocky Mountain Institute to achieve a 30 percent reduction in energy use at New York City's iconic Empire State Building. The project will pay for itself in three years.

Nike recently opened a new distribution center in Tennessee that uses 50 percent less energy per square foot than its predecessor facility. An even bigger focus is cutting energy use at hundreds of factories in China, Vietnam and other countries. "We need to be aggressively pursuing efficiencies across our entire supply chain," said Hannah Jones, Nike's vice president of sustainable business and innovation.

But, without stronger policies that reward and incentivize such efficiencies, the large-scale pollution reductions that are needed — in developed and developing countries alike — will never be possible.

Before heading out of Copenhagen, Jones wants to be sure our U.S. negotiators get this message:

"The U.S. delegation, 'We've got your back," she said. "We need the policy signal to unleash the next wave, the next economic revolution. Copenhagen is crucial."

This piece originally appeared on Climate Progress.

Image Credit: Darwin Bell via Flickr, Creative Commons License

Bookmark and Share


Yeah, this is actually not too surprising. But I've also seen a dozen ads from the Petroleum industry and the Chamber of Commerce ranting on and on about how cap-and-trade will result in "2 million lost jobs," and "$4.00 gasoline."

First, I cannot for the life of me understand how a single job will be lost to cap-and-trade, especially in the economic long run (the time scale upon which climate change will play out). If a company has to lay off workers in order to offset the costs of purchasing tradeable emissions permits, they will then spend those costs on the permits. Where will that money then go? Oh, that's right, to companies than can sequester their carbon. These companies will employ people, one way or another. When money is spent on a permit, it simply does not disappear. It eventually goes to employ another person somewhere.

Furthermore, as for $4 gas, that will happen whether or not we enact cap-and-trade legislation. Fossil fuels are by definition not renewable, so eventually they will decrease in supply. This will cause them to increase in price.

So businesses should be on board with making this transition in a smoother, market-driven way through cap-and-trade than for letting the economy collapse in a sudden oil shock...

Posted by: Matt Petryni on 14 Dec 09

This is great. I am glad such equitable companies as these are being so proactive in making our world a better place, for financial reasons or not.

"I am here to serve."
The Window Man

Posted by: The Window Man on 14 Dec 09

Post A Comment

Please note that comments will remain open for only 14 days after the article is posted. While previous comments will remain visible, attempts to post new comments after this period will fail. This helps stop comment spam, so your forebearance is appreciated.

The Worldchanging comments are meant to be used for further exploration and evaluation of the ideas covered in our posts. Please note that, while constructive disagreement is fine, insults and abuse are not, and will result in the comment being deleted and a likely ban from commenting. We will also delete at will and without warning comments we believe are designed to disrupt a conversation rather than contribute to it. In short, we'll kill troll posts.

Finally, please note that comments which simply repost copyrighted works or commercial messages will be summarily deleted.

Yes No







MESSAGE (optional):

Search Worldchanging

Worldchanging Newsletter Get good news for a change —
Click here to sign up!


Website Design by Eben Design | Logo Design by Egg Hosting | Hosted by Amazon AWS | Problems with the site? Send email to tech /at/
Architecture for Humanity - all rights reserved except where otherwise indicated.

Find_us_on_facebook_badge.gif twitter-logo.jpg