There’s a saying – dubiously attributable to Winston Churchill – that Americans will always do the right thing, after exhausting all the alternatives. Although a bit harsh, I think it certainly holds true for the U.S. business community’s attitude about addressing climate change at a national level. Market-based solutions to emission reductions were originally a Republican idea that presumably should have been embraced by the party’s constituents; especially after the success of using cap and trade programs to reduce acid rain. But that never happened, and comprehensive national and regional market-based programs that looked to reduce companies’ carbon footprints were written off as the magical thinking of lefty socialists.
Although very late to the party, it was heartening to see this past week the U.S. Chamber of Commerce announce its support for a “market-based approach to accelerate GHG emissions reductions across the U.S. economy”. This is a far cry from its previous stance which essentially amounted to calls for more research, please. The Chamber now recognizes the “urgent need for action”, while holding fast to its purpose of supporting and promoting U.S. business interests. Those goals are not mutually exclusive as businesses around the globe are realizing.
Even the American Petroleum Institute has recognized that an economy-wide program to reduce emissions is needed. In its recent 2021 State of American Energy report, API said that in addition to supporting the Paris Agreement, it supports “market-based government policies to reduce GHG emissions from all economic sectors”. Last week, the Electrical Power Supply Association released its 100-Day Roadmap and in it committed its support to market-based tools like carbon pricing, while Toyota and Fiat/Chrysler announced they would each stop their efforts to thwart California’s ambitious fuel-economy standards.
It took far too long to get there, but the U.S. business community is finally waking up to the reality that comprehensive climate action is good for business.
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