US largest corporations take climate change actions

Anne Kelly from Ceres far left chairs a panel discussion between US corporations in the White House. Photo credit: 11thhourproject.org.
 By Anders Lorenzen
Despite a gridlock in the US Congress in enacting climate change policies, the largest US corporations are not waiting for politics and are embracing climate change and renewable energy policies in their company strategies.
In May US President Barack Obama took executive control to deal with climate change. The President remarked that he was forced to do so as a gridlocked US Congress had failed to take action on one of the world’s most challenging issues.

But a report produced by Calvert Investments, Ceres, David Gardiner & Associates and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) found that the largest companies in the US are already embracing renewable energy sourcing and CO2 emission reductions efforts.

In the report: Power Forward 2.0: How American Companies are Setting Clean Energy Targets and Capturing Greater Business Value it is highlighted that renewable energy policies are becoming mainstream for US corporations.

Enacting climate and renewable policies are being seen more and more in a pro-business case. States that fail to set targets in these areas are likely to discourage investments and thereby miss out on growth and job creation, says Anne Kelly, Director of Public Policy at Ceres, a nonprofit sustainability advocacy group.

“The world’s largest companies are demonstrating that investments in clean energy drive strong returns…Setting and meeting renewable energy targets helps companies and their shareholders to address clear risks and seize concrete opportunities” Bennett Freeman, Senior Vice President for Sustainability Research and Policy at Calvert said.

But while there is clearly tremendous progress being demonstrated, corporate investments in clean energy are not yet at the scale we need. A number of companies have yet to set goals while others are facing challenges to accelerate their use of renewable energy.

Obstacles exist such as regional cost-parity issues between renewable energy and subsidized fossil-based energy as well as inconsistent policies that send mixed signals to companies and investors in renewable energy projects and these obstacles, the authors of the report argue, must be resolved to further accelerate these efforts.

“Companies that haven’t started to address climate change and clean energy are missing a big business opportunity…These companies should get started immediately to reap the same savings that the larger companies are getting.”  David Gardiner, President of David Gardiner and Associates commented.

Extending the Production Tax Credit for wind energy this year; maintaining and expanding Renewable Portfolio Standards in states that do not have them; removing policy hurdles in states that prevent companies from contracting to buy the cheapest renewable power available and building on-site renewable power generation and market-based solutions that put a price on carbon pollution are among the several recommendations that the reports argue U.S. policymakers should enact.

Sub edited by Charlotte Paton 

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