Here’s an idea for big environmental NGOs that work with corporate partners: Kindly recommend to those partners that they raise their voices in Washington in support of the EPA’s proposed coal plant rules.
The coal plant rules are the cornerstone of the Obama administration’s climate change policy. Yet they are being strongly opposed by mainstream Washington business lobbies like the US Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM).
The big corporate partners of the green groups could make a difference. They could support the rules on their own–few have done so–and, just as important, speak up inside the halls of the chamber and NAM, asking them to halt their opposition to the rules.
No climate issue matters more, Mindy Lubber of Ceres told me, for a story posted the other day at Guardian Sustainable Business, which we’ll get to in a moment.
In a report on corporate engagement [PDF], WWF lists more than a dozen “corporate engagements with an annual budget greater than US$250,000.” Partners include Avon Products, Bank of America, The Coca-Cola Co., Domtar, Ecolab, Google, Johnson & Johnson, Kimberly-Clark, Mars, McDonald’s, Procter & Gamble, Sealed Air, Sodexo and Toyota.
The Nature Conservancy says on its website that “the private sector has an important role to play in advancing our conservation mission” and publishes a long list of partners, including 3M, Alaska Airlines, AT&T, Avon, Bank of America, BHP Billiton, Boeing, BP, Bunge, Cargill, Caterpillar, CH2MHill, Coca-Cola, CSX Transportation, Delta, Disney, Dow Chemical, EcoLab, General Mills, Goldman Sachs, Harley Davidson, IBM, JPMorgan Chase, Kimpton Hotels, Lowe’s, Macy’s, Monsanto, Mosaic, Patagonia, PepsiCo, Rio Tinto, SABMiller, Shell, Target, TDBank, Uber and Xerox.
The Environmental Defense Fund, for its part, works with AT&T, Caterpillar, DuPont, KKR, McDonald’s, Ocean Spray, Starbucks and Walmart, among others.
I could go on but you get the point. Now contrast those lists with the challenges faced by Mindy Lubber and Ceres, as they try to line up companies to back the EPA rules. That’s why my story is about, and here is how it begins:
As the US political fight over climate change moves from Washington DC to 50 state capitals, companies that are serious about sustainability need to support theEPA’s proposed rules to curb carbon pollution from existing power plants.
“Companies have the strength and power – the footprint to make a huge difference,” Lubber told me at a lunch earlier this month. Ceres celebrates its 25th anniversary Tuesday.
It’s hard to overstate the importance of the proposed power plant rules, which are the cornerstone of President Barack Obama’s climate agenda. Power plants account for nearly 40% of all US greenhouse gas emissions.
What Ceres has found, Mindy told me, is that it’s hard to get big companies to support the EPA and the president, and overcome their habitual, instinctive resistance to government regulation.
Last month, as I wrote in the Guardian, Ceres released a statement supporting the rules that was signed by more than 200 companies but most were small or midsized. Big firms to sign on included Ikea, Kellogg, Levi Strauss, Mars, Nestle, Nike, Novelis, VF and Unilever. They are to be commended.
Ceres’s list would carry a lot more weight if other NGOS like WWF, The Nature Conservancy and Environmental Defense persuaded most or all their corporate partners to sign on.
Until they do, conservative trade associations like the US Chamber, NAM, the National Mining Association and the American Farm Bureau Federation, which have joined together to oppose the EPA rules, will speak for business in Washington. I’ve never understood why so many companies that profess to care about the environment — and, in my view, actually do care about the environment — have allowed that to happen.
You can read the rest of my story here.