The Precarious Climate Policy of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Going green — By Stephanie on October 6, 2009 at 7:33 am
2134740883 cc74f1cc11 m The Precarious Climate Policy of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Is time running out for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to change its climate policy?

Over the past few weeks, corporations have been withdrawing from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce due to its climate policy, faster than you can say stranded polar bears.

Yesterday, Apple, Inc. was the latest one out the door, complaining about the Chamber’s failure to “play a constructive role in addressing the climate crisis.”  Along with Apple, Pacific Gas and Electric and powerful Nike have also exited the organization.  Other well-known corporations may soon follow.

Before we get into the “why,” let’s review the “who” and “what.”

Who, or what, is the U.S. Chamber of Commerce?

Like the local chamber of commerce in your hometown, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is generally comprised of businesses; it provides resources, networking opportunities, sponsoring events, and generally giving you a platform to help your business succeed.  As described on its website:

“The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation representing 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations. More than 96% of U.S. Chamber members are small businesses with 100 employees or fewer.”

The Chamber of Commerce is comprised of over 3 million businesses and is governed by a 7-member Board of Directors.  The Board is the principal governing and policymaking body.  Perhaps most importantly, the Directors decide policy positions on business issues and advise the membership of the U.S. Chamber as a whole with respect to strategies to pursue.

Of course, this includes a climate policy:

What is the Climate Policy of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce?

96150892 e065431d16 m The Precarious Climate Policy of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce

U.S. Chamber of Commerce calls for a trial on global warming

In August, the Chamber threw down the gauntlet to the Environmental Protection Agency, demanding a“Trial on Global Warming,” which would be the  “Scopes Monkey Trial of the 21st Century.”  The extreme position both enraged and surprised some members of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the general public.  The “Scopes Monkey Trial” took place in 1925, and sought a ruling on the validity of evolution.

The Chamber’s move again seeks to put science on trial, and is part of its challenge to the EPA’s decision that global warming represents a threat to human health.  The fear is that the EPA’s decision may be used to regulate carbon emissions under the Clean Air Act.

And that’s a bad thing?

Responding to the outcry over the past few weeks, the Chamber backed off from its desire to debate the scientific accuracy of global climate change.  It now claims that it believes the science is accurate, but that we need a decisive ruling in a court of law that global warming causes human endangerment.

Yet many Chamber members and commentators believe that such a ruling has already been made.  As discussed in the Puget Sound Business Journal:

The fact is, the scientific “trial” is long over. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the National Academy of Sciences have judged the evidence and rendered their verdict: The soundest peer-reviewed science available overwhelmingly indicates that the threat of climate change is real, and threatens human health and welfare.

By withdrawing effective immediately from the Chamber of Commerce, Apple, Inc. effectively calls “B.S.” on the Chamber’s stated reasons for demanding a trial on global warming.  Since silence may indicate assent, some are urging other corporations to follow Apple, Nike and PG&E.

Who will be next?  Starbucks, Boeing, Timberland?  These corporations have joined with Nike in founding BICEP (Businesses for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy), which publicly supports federal climate policy.  To continue remaining associated with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce may send a conflicting message regarding their corporate stance on global warming.

Its time to quit monkeying around with this absurd demand for a trial on global warming.

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