Large businesses that are part of the advocacy coalition BICEP (Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy) are taking giant strides towards addressing climate change in America.
After president Obama’s recent speech where he announced plans for action, multi-billion dollar enterprises such as The Weather Company, Akamai Technologies and Mars Incorporated have jumped on the bandwagon that includes over 600 companies that have signed the Climate Declaration– an outcry from businesses and individuals across America urging policy makers to take this crucial opportunity for economic growth by implementing new energy and climate laws.
I chatted with BICEP program Policy Director Anne Kelly about the coalition, the Climate Declaration and what we can all do to get involved to make these changes happen now.
C: How was BICEP started?
A: BICEP was started in November 2008 with five-consumer brand companies: Nike, Starbucks, Timberland, Levi Strauss and Sun Microsystems (later purchased by Oracle). But, it was those five companies, under Nike’s initial leadership, that decided where most companies that were active in the climate energy debate stood in being directly regulated. These companies felt as though they should be weighing in because they have lengthy supply chains that are affected by climate change and felt in part as though their employees and consumers expected them to be engaged- either major employers, major consumer brands; companies that were individually setting their own energy efficiency and green house gas mitigation goals, so they are part of the solution and they wanted to be part of the debate. From there BICEP has grown over 5 years and we now have 26 consumer brands.
C: What is the Climate Declaration?
A: The climate declaration is a BICEP innovation from this past year and it’s intended to widen the tent and deepen the bench of corporate advocates for climate management policy. It had been several years since major corporate brands came out publicly and said a draft in climate change is an economic opportunity and it’s the right thing to do. The language really puts that forward and says very specifically that it’s about the jobs, about the choices we make, about keeping America competitive and about standing up.
C: How will it spur economic growth?
A: What we know is that new rules and regulations can spur entire industries. We’ve seen this happen with the clean air act and water pollution- technologies were developed as a result of our regulating any number of air pollutants starting 43 years ago in 1970. When we put those rules in place, businesses are very good at figuring out how to meet those rules, so that spurs various pollution control technology, that’s the story of our environmental law infrastructure and environmental economy. As we do more with the development of renewable energy we know that the deployment and the improvements of those various energies will be a job creator. News rules means news jobs and new innovation- that brings economic growth.
A second way is the savings that come from addressing this problem and for that I’ll point you to a wonderful report called the 3% Solution that was published by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). This is the best analysis I’ve seen in years. It shows that if companies were to reduce their carbon emissions with carbon reduction activities by three percent over the next several years, then we can close the gap and save billions in cost savings.
C: What can businesses and individuals do to get involved?
A: First off, they can sign the Climate Declaration by visiting http://www.climatedeclaration.us. Individuals can sign up for regular updates and be part of the solution in a public way. Companies can contact us to figure out how to be positive advocates and they can spread the word to their employees and consumers that this isn’t a partisan issue. It is false to suggest that we need to choose between economic development and environmental protection. There are a number of avenues people can take in their own institutions, cities and towns as well as at state and federal levels. In Obama’s first speech he said there is no better time than right now for people to get active. These next three years are critical while the Obama administration pursues the initiative laid out on June 25. This is a moment like no other.