The stance taken by the US Chamber of Commerce on climate change is damaging the confidence Americans have in business’ ability to respond to current challenges. The Chamber has been fighting climate change legislation tooth and nail on behalf of the US coal industry that makes up a very small segment of their membership. Other business have taken notice, as the list of companies leaving the Chamber is growing. The Chamber chose to entrench its stance on the lead up to the Copenhagen climate conference and this resulted in the departure of Exelon Corp, Pacific Gas & Electric, PNM Resources, Mohawk Fine Papers, and Apple.
The Chamber is relying on technology advancements to fix problems that are happening here and now. It only requires simple science to realize that burning coal now is harming our planet now. So waiting for those technological advancements to happen is not solving the problem – it is maintaining the status quo. The problem is that the status quo has deep pockets and the ability to fund campaigns against politicians that will not vote to maintain this status quo. Democrats should be on alert. Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue recently laid out his marching orders at his “State of American Business” speech. “We’re not in presidential politics … but we’re going to be in a lot of politics in the House and Senate and judicial politics of this country,” stated Donohue from Chamber of Commerce headquarters in Washington.
Donohue is trying to frame the argument as a “for us or against us” battle (sound familiar in Washington?). He trying to paint the picture that all business in America, large and small, should be supporting the Chamber on this issue because voting for climate change legislation is an immediate death sentence for job and economic growth. “Congress, the administration and the states must recognize that our weak economy simply could not sustain all the new taxes, regulations and mandates now under consideration,” Donohue said. You better believe that those who vote for support any of “taxes, regulations and mandates” will be in the cross-hairs come the mid-term elections.
“We are not crazy or outside the mainstream,” says David Chavern, the Chamber’s COO. “We’ve been around for almost 100 years because we’ve done pretty good at figuring out what’s needed for the business community to be successful and we are going to be around for another 100 years.”
I disagree. When an economic force like Apple, with its millions of consumers, departs because it is at odds with the Chamber’s climate change stance then you are outside of the mainstream. The writing is being sketched on the wall and not all business agree with the Chambers stance. This is why I, and my small business, joined the group American Business for Clean Energy. In Oklahoma, for example, Alliance Automotive has already joined American Business for Clean Energy. This group was started to prove that American business, large and small, can and will support climate change legislation that will have a real impact on curbing greenhouse gas emissions. There are over 1,200 business from shore to shore that have signed on to show their support for clean energy legislation for 2010 and now my business is one of them. Business owners, I urge you to sign your business up too. Take a stand that Donohue and his pals don’t represent your view point on climate change. Consumers, I urge you to show your support for these business and encourage your local shops and favorite retailers to get on board too.
In the end, I think businesses large and small can be a positive force for change in our country. Not a reactionary roadblock that keeps us stuck in the past.