An epic battle has been brewing over climate change in the world of commerce, and things just got a lot more epic-er. Global giant Microsoft has become the latest corporate leader to challenge the U.S. Chamber of Commerce over its position on climate change. Talking Points Memo reports that Microsoft has posted a statement on its sustainability blog, making it clear that the Chamber does not speak for it on climate issues. Memo to Chamber of Commerce, what part of “Microsoft has stated that climate change is a serious issue that demands immediate, worldwide attention and we are acting accordingly” do you not get?
The fossil fuel industry will never die, but fossil fuels are on the road to marginalization, and jobs in that sector will not drive the economy. Instead of trying to prop up a fading industry, the Chamber should stop fiddling around and start supporting companies like Peerless Industries, Inc. The sustainability-minded company has just announced that it has shifted 100% of its jobs back from overseas, and moved them all into a new energy efficient LEED certified building in Illinois.
Who Does the Chamber of Commerce Really Represent?
Short answer: not all of the same companies they used to. Last month, just one day before Nike along with Starbucks and a bunch of other companies launched the Race for American Jobs (a national campaign in support of new climate legislation) the Chamber of Commerce upstaged them by filing a petition blocking the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act. How’s that for support ? No wonder Nike has withdrawn from its position on the Chamber’s board. Apple, Exelon (the nation’s largest utility), Pacific Gas & Electric, and several other leading companies quit outright last fall.
Who is the Chamber Helping?
Think Progress reports that an organization called the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is behind a state-based drive against greehouse gas regulation that backs up the Chamber’s position. The organization (which is partly funded by Exxon, according to Sourcewatch.org) promotes a resolution opposing EPA’s endangerment finding on greenhouse gasses (an endangerment finding is needed in order to establish the EPA’s authority to regulate emissions). So far at least 15 state legislatures have embarked on parallel resolutions challenging the EPA’s authority. Many contain inflammatory language that basically positions climate science as a vast global conspiracy, and according to Think Progress all include language claiming that greenhouse gas regulation will hurt the economy. What was that about Exxon again?
The Arizona Clean Energy Canary
If Arizona is any indication of where this is headed, fasten your seatbelts. The global clean energy giant Suntech, which is bringing green jobs to Arizona, was among the companies and organizations that successfully lobbied the Arizona state legislature to drop a bill that would have stifled incentives for clean energy. The bill’s own primary sponsor was among those dropping it like a hot potato after hearing public testimony. On the other side of the coin is the Arizona legislature’s ALEC/Exxon style resolution, which according to Think Progress states that the U.S. Congress doesn’t have the authority to regulate greenhouse gas pollution. For a clue where this is going, follow the money – and I don’t mean corporate money. Fewer jobs in the fossil fuel industry, more jobs in the clean energy sector, and that many less voters in support of anti-climate shenanigans.
Image: Microsoft Way by TechFlash Todd on flickr.com.
Tina Casey specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. You can also follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.