Coalition Supports Comprehensive Climate Action
Businesses and investors signed an open letter to President Biden supporting his administration’s commitment to climate action. In fact, the businesses are asking Biden to pick up the pace.
We Mean Business is a global coalition that leverages the power of the business world to promote public policy that accelerates the transition to a zero-carbon economy.
“The United States must address the climate crisis at the pace and scale that it demands,” said Dr. Maria Mendiluce, Executive Director of the We Mean Business Coalition. “The U.S. must adopt an emissions reduction target that will place the country on a credible pathway to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.”
The Coalition is calling for the U.S. to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.
The group claims that the goal is achievable. Signatories of the letter represent more than $3 trillion in annual revenue, while employing approximately 6 million workers across all 50 states. The companies include:
- Ben & Jerry’s Homemade, Inc.;
- BT Americas;
- Boston Consulting Group;
- the Coca-Cola Company;
- Danone North America;
- DSM North America;
- Edison International;
- Gap Inc.;
- General Electric;
- Hewlett Packard Enterprise;
- HP Inc.;
- IKEA Retail U.S.;
- Impossible Foods Inc.;
- Johnson & Johnson;
- Keap Candles;
- Kellogg Company;
- Levi Strauss & Co.;
- Lyft, Inc.;
- McDonald’s Corporation;
- National Grid;
- Natura & Co;
- New Belgium Brewing;
- Novozymes North America;
- Ørsted North America;
- Ralph Lauren Corporation;
- SAP SE;
- Schneider Electric;
- Seventh Generation;
- Stonyfield Organic;
- Tiffany & Co;
- VF Corporation; and
- Walmart among many others.
Investor groups that signed the letter represent more than $1 trillion in assets under management, including CalSTRS, New York State Comptroller, New York City Comptroller, California State Controller’s Office and many others.
“The U.S. business community is committed to doing its part to reduce emissions. Companies want to work with the Biden administration toward a better future for all,” said Mendiluce. “I applaud businesses and investors for raising their voices. We can cut U.S. emissions in half by 2030. This is what the climate crisis requires. It will make the country more competitive, while creating good jobs.”
President Biden took action his first day in office to return the United States to the Paris Agreement. Just a few days later, he announced his intention to convene a leaders summit to galvanize efforts by the major economies to tackle the climate crisis.
“A strong national emissions reduction target is just what we need to catalyze a net-zero emissions future and build back a more equitable and inclusive economy,” said Anne Kelly, vice president of government relations at Ceres. “Businesses of all sizes recognize that reducing emissions is vital to keeping the U.S. competitive, and protecting the health and well-being of people and the planet. By setting a strong target, the Biden administration can ensure the U.S. is ready to return to its role as a global climate leader and spur further action from the private sector.”
This open letter was generously supported by the effort of the We Mean Business coalition partners, including BSR, CDP, Ceres, The B Team, The Climate Group, The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, and supporting partners, including America Is All In, E2, the Environmental Defense Fund, The Nature Conservancy and World Wildlife Fund.
The letter demonstrates the U.S. business and investor communities’ strong support for a highly ambitious 2030 emissions reduction target, or Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) pursuant to the Paris Agreement, in pursuit of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050. Latest climate modeling shows that at least halving emissions by 2030 is achievable, and provides strong economic benefits.
The Biden administration is expected to announce its NDC prior to the Leaders Summit on Climate next month. By the time of the Summit, the United States will announce an ambitious 2030 emissions target as its new Nationally Determined Contribution under the Paris Agreement. President Biden invited 40 world leaders to the Leaders Summit on Climate, which he will host April 22 and 23. The virtual Leaders Summit will be streamed for public viewing. In his invitation, the President urged leaders to use the Summit as an opportunity to outline how their countries also will contribute to stronger climate ambition.
The Leaders Summit on Climate will be a key milestone on the road to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) this November in Glasgow. The Summit will reconvene the U.S.-led Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate, which brings together 17 countries responsible for approximately 80 percent of global emissions and global GDP. The President also invited the heads of other countries that are demonstrating strong climate leadership, are especially vulnerable to climate impacts, or are charting innovative pathways to a net-zero economy. A small number of business and civil society leaders will also participate in the Summit. President Biden will highlight the economic benefits of climate action, with a strong emphasis on job creation, and the importance of ensuring all communities and workers benefit from the transition to a new clean energy economy.
Biden will explain how many businesses are harnessing climate action as a driver of innovation, competitiveness, risk management and growth, while delivering the emissions reductions needed to avoid dangerous climate change. Hopefully, they will discuss how more companies are implementing an internal carbon price, which can help companies combat climate change, while encouraging innovation, competitiveness and conservation.
To achieve a fair market, we must eliminate the market-distortion caused by fossil fuel subsidies (about $20 billion per year in the U.S.). The US government has subsidized coal, oil, and gas for decades. Most Americans want to stop subsidizing these dinosaurs and they want to invest those public funds in clean energy. Biden appears to have a plan to stop this insanity.
Fossil fuel extraction projects that are already in progress will produce enough climate pollution to push the planet beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius of global warming. Continuing to explore for and develop new reserves of coal, oil, and gas are a climate catastrophe.
Tax dollars should not be used to promote or reward this reckless behavior.
This form of climate destruction is only possible in a racist world. Producing and burning fossil fuels contaminates our natural resources. It poisons the air and water of nearby communities, which are disproportionately Black, Brown, Indigenous, and working-class. Fossil fuels killed 8.7 million people globally in 2018 alone. In the United States, air pollution from burning fossil fuels is linked to an estimated 350,000 deaths every year, disproportionately in communities of color. Fossil fuel subsidies are creating a public health disaster, while creating a massive liability for taxpayers.
Meanwhile, the transport sector currently accounts for 23 percent of global energy-related CO2 emissions – over half of which is from light vehicles – and is the fastest-growing contributor to climate change. Corporate commitment to increasing the pace of electric vehicle uptake and growing the market for the world’s most sustainable fuels are vital to reducing urban emissions.
Making progress on mitigation in the food and agriculture sector is crucial to meeting the Paris Agreement, as it represents 25 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions and is the sector most vulnerable to climate change. While deforestation and forest degradation account for 10-15 percent of the world’s GHG emissions and risk $906 billion in annual corporate turnover.
Buildings and construction account for more than 35 percent of global energy use and nearly 40 percent of energy-related CO2 emissions. We must reach net-zero emissions across the built environment lifecycle by 2050, including the vital materials of steel and cement.
Improving internal capacity on climate issues is essential for companies to harness climate action as a driver of innovation, competitiveness, risk management and growth. Businesses can ensure they are prepared by committing to develop consistent, accountable, and transparent internal practices around climate change management.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a global emergency, bringing devastation to millions around the world, impacting lives and jobs, and grinding much of the global economy to a halt. It calls on all of us to come together with compassion and humility, and to act radically and decisively to protect what’s most important.
In addition to mobilizing emergency medical responses and financial assistance for communities, workers and businesses in the near term, governments around the world are quickly designing some of the biggest long-term economic stimulus packages ever seen. Both elements are vital to ensure the damage to economies, companies and people caused by the coronavirus is minimized, while laying the foundations for a strong recovery.
Governments working on plans to rebuild their economies should pair recovery action with climate action to ensure that they, and the companies they support, emerge stronger than before. Clear and consistent government policies that decarbonize every system of the economy are critical to accelerate progress towards the zero-carbon economies of the future.
By applying a climate and resilience lens to longer-term economic stimulus, governments can boost economic growth, create good jobs, reduce emissions, ensure clean air, and increase resilience to future shocks.
The science is clear: the longer we delay action on climate at the pace and scale needed, the more complex the impacts will be to mitigate, with disastrous effects on people and the planet. We can’t navigate our way forward with fossil fuels and conservative thinking.
Government, business and society leaders have a collective responsibility to unite behind the science and act in coordination to keep global warming increase to a maximum of 1.5°C. That means halving greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in this decade and reaching net-zero emissions by 2050 at the latest. By tackling climate and COVID-19 together we can deliver a just and inclusive economic recovery and accelerate the transition to a zero-carbon economy. It makes good business sense.
Studies show that policies that reduce GHG emissions help ensure a more resilient and sustainable labor market, deliver higher short-term returns per dollar spent and lead to increased long-term cost savings compared with traditional fiscal stimulus.
We have the opportunity now with the transformation of the U.S. energy grid to adopt practices that will ensure that this is a just transition, one that delivers local benefits, addresses negative impacts and expands support for clean energy policies and projects, starting with local communities.
Climate ambition and action are vital tools for companies to enhance resilience, competitiveness, innovation and long-term growth potential. There is evidence that companies that integrate sustainability into their businesses outperform those taking less action even during these turbulent times. Companies with a core focus on sustainability are better positioned to withstand the impacts of systemic shocks, including the inevitable impacts of climate change.
We Mean Business is a global coalition of nonprofit organizations working with the world’s most influential businesses to take action on global warming and climate change. The coalition brings together seven organizations: BSR, CDP, Ceres, The B Team, The Climate Group, The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. The coalition promotes business action to drive public policy, while accelerating the transition to a zero-carbon economy. So far, 1693 companies globally support the rapid transition to a zero-carbon economy. Find out more at wemeanbusinesscoaltion.org