How Will Congress Respond to a Climate Change Declaration Signed by Massive Corporations? How Will Congress Respond to a Climate Change Declaration Signed by Massive Corporations?
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How Will Congress Respond to a Climate Change Declaration Signed by Massive Corporations?

by Adele Peters

April 18, 2013

Fighting climate change is not just the right thing to do, it's also critical for reviving the economy, say Nike, IKEA, Intel, and 30 other major companies who signed a climate declaration telling Congress we need to act on climate now. From the declaration:
We cannot risk our kids’ futures on the false hope that the vast majority of scientists are wrong. But just as America rose to the great challenges of the past and came out stronger than ever, we have to confront this challenge, and we have to win. And in doing this right, by saving money when we use less electricity, by saving money to drive a more efficient car, by choosing clean energy, by inventing new technologies that other countries buy, and creating jobs here at home, we will maintain our way of life and remain a true superpower in a competitive world.
 
In order to make this happen, however, there must be a coordinated effort to combat climate change–with America taking the lead here at home. Leading is what we’ve always done. And by working together, regardless of politics, we’ll do it again.
Some environmentalists are skeptical that these corporations are doing everything they can. From an article in Grist
These companies may be lobbying for some decent federal energy policies, but they’re still in the business of pushing jeans (Levi Strauss) and pressboard furniture (IKEA). They might be sad about climate change — we can all agree on the sad part, right? — but they make it clear that this is really about their bottom line. Eileen Fisher is upset that the drought is cutting into its cotton supply, not that it might be encouraging people to buy clothes they don’t really need.
 
For these companies the bottom line is consumerism. No matter how you spin it, that’s not sustainable for the planet. And even if they’re promoting some policies that we like, do we want to rely on L’Oreal and company to be our advocates in Washington? I’m not buying it. But hey, maybe President Obama will.
In part, that's what really matters—if the federal government is going to truly act in a meaningful way on climate change, it needs meaningful support, whatever the underlying motivation may be. These companies represent nearly half a million jobs in the United States, and $450 billion in annual revenue. Their voice will be heard. The declaration is open for other companies and citizens to sign as well.
 
I also question that all of these companies want to sell people things they don't need; Patagonia, which is on the list, has explicitly asked its customers to buy less. And if other companies can figure out how to produce cotton clothing in a truly sustainable way, does it matter if we buy more of it? I believe in design, and that we can eventually make, ship, and sell products in creative ways that don't harm people or the planet. Good policy, like this declaration is pushing for, has to go along with that. 
 
Illustration by Kate Slovin, adapted from work of Jim Powell.
 
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How Will Congress Respond to a Climate Change Declaration Signed by Massive Corporations?