The US Chamber of Commerce, which claims to be the voice of business, lost a big member this week—PG&E energy company—because of its "extreme" views on climate change. The Chamber has been a source of global warming denial and recently called for the EPA to hold a "Scopes"-like hearing on the evidence that climate change is man-made. The EPA politely demurred, saying that their policies are based "on the soundest peer-reviewed science available, which overwhelmingly indicates that climate change presents a threat to human health and welfare." Climate is not the Chamber’s specialty, but it has been instrumental in protecting some businesses' interests on issues like labor laws, the minimum wage and health care. And despite potential disagreements on myriad issues, some companies have decided to take a stand on this one. On the PG&E’s blog, Jonathan Marshall, PG&E’s chief of external communications writes, “not every issue is created equal, and sometimes companies decide they have to take a more decisive stand on the really big ones.” PG&E is a natural gas and electricity provider in Northern California and has invested in solar power. In a letter to the Chamber, they criticize its “extreme” view on climate change:
We find it dismaying that the Chamber neglects the indisputable fact that a decisive majority of experts have said the data on global warming are compelling and point to a threat that cannot be ignored. In our opinion, an intellectually honest argument over the best policy response to the challenges of climate change is one thing; disingenuous attempts to diminish or distort the reality of these challenges are quite another.Separately, Nike issued a statement that chided the Chamber for their position on climate change:
Nike fundamentally disagrees with the US Chamber of Commerce's position on climate change and is concerned and deeply disappointed with the US Chamber's recently filed petition challenging the EPA's administrative authority and action on this critically important issue. Nike believes that climate change is an urgent issue affecting the world today and that businesses and their representative associations need to take an active role to invest in sustainable business practices and innovative solutions to address the issue. It is not a time for debate but instead a time for action and we believe the Chamber's recent petition sets back important work currently being undertaken by EPA on this issue. Nike helped to found BICEP, a coalition of businesses supporting congressional action to address strong U.S. climate and energy legislation. Nike has worked to address its own environmental footprint through the development of more sustainable products, energy efficiency programs and emission reductions.
Wednesday, 23 September 2009 14:31 Written by Lesley Carlson
Today is the 6th anniversary of when Carbonfund.org was registered as a 501(c)(3). And, five days from now is our daughter Renee’s 6th birthday. Yes, fall 2003 was busy for the Carlsons, but it was all intertwined. Eric had long worked on energy efficiency and his interest in renewable energy as a way to solve climate change, but he saw no sign of the breakthrough necessary to really solve the problem. Seeing our beautiful Sonja born in Fall 2001 made the matter personal and urgent. What would happen to our child if global warming continued on its threatening march? Would we be able to say to her that we did what we could to stop it? Carbonfund.org resulted from three observations: 1) Acid rain, a former environmental urgency, had been solved primarily from a cap-and-trade on SO2; 2) Individuals and businesses were already taking steps to reduce their CO2 emissions through conservation and energy efficiency and through the Chicago Climate Exchange; and 3) Dramatic legislation to solve the problem was nowhere on the horizon. We wanted to provide individuals and businesses an affordable way to understand and neutralize their own carbon footprint. Above is the banner to our first website, which was put up in January 2004. A few months later we had the moxie to start a 100,000 metric ton challenge, which given the $3200 we raised in 2004, took a little while to attain. But we did. And then some. Today, thanks to our early supporters to whom we had a lot to prove, but who gave us legitimacy and voice, and to those who have joined us ever since, we celebrate that we are offsetting over 5 billion pounds (over 2,260,000 metric tons) of CO2 and our relationship with more than 450,000 individuals and 1,200 businesses to build a greener future. We are also excited that national brands, such as Motorola and Domino Sugar have adopted our CarbonFree® Product Certification, making their products carbon neutral from start to finish and that we have helped in preserving or growing trees in Nicaragua, Louisiana, Brazil and China, covering an area over 8 times the size of Central Park. We have also been proud of our wonderful workforce committed to transforming the way in which people think of, use, and purchase energy, or “reduce what [we] can, and offset what [we] can’t.” While we are not yet at our original goal of moving “toward a zero carbon world,” we have shown that carbon reductions can happen at reasonable cost and can invigorate the economy and that people are willing to make the changes to get there, even during serious economic times. The good news is that with all of us working together, we are having an effect. Lester Brown of the Earth Policy Institute wrote in the September 20 Washington Post that US CO2 emissions are down 9% over the last two years and continue to drop this year. For the first time, we are showing that we can reduce our climate impact. Together with our supporters, Carbonfund.org will make more investment in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and forest-based projects and educate individuals and businesses on what they can do. In addition, we all need to press our leaders for national change. This session, Congress will be considering that dramatic legislation we dreamed of so long ago. Carbon offsetting has helped us to see it. Those of us who have led the fight against climate change need to join our voices and add more to get the Waxman-Markey bill passed. Without our individual and national action, it will be hard for any kind of substantial international climate change treaty to happen. This is how it works. Through realizing a private dream of starting an organization or taking personal action, every individual can say that we did what we could to stop it.
Tuesday, 22 September 2009 10:56 Written by Amy Givler
Today marks a full day of climate negotiations that lead off the UN’s annual meeting in New York. President Obama will make an opening speech, in which he will acknowledge the previous administration’s climate stance by saying that his administration “understand[s] the gravity of the climate threat. We are determined to act. And we will meet our responsibility to future generations.” This year’s challenge is getting the issue in front of and debated in the US Senate. Without a strong climate commitment from the US, Obama’s efforts will be seriously hamstrung in any international negotiations. He highlights what has been done through investment and tax incentives in the US. “The United States has done more to promote clean energy and reduce carbon pollution in the last eight months than at any other time in our history.”
We’re making our government’s largest ever investment in renewable energy – an investment aimed at doubling the generating capacity from wind and other renewable resources in three years. Across America, entrepreneurs are constructing wind turbines and solar panels and batteries for hybrid cars with the help of loan guarantees and tax credits – projects that are creating new jobs and new industries. We’re investing billions to cut energy waste in our homes, buildings, and appliances – helping American families save money on energy bills in the process. We’ve proposed the very first national policy aimed at both increasing fuel economy and reducing greenhouse gas pollution for all new cars and trucks – a standard that will also save consumers money and our nation oil. We’re moving forward with our nation’s first offshore wind energy projects. We’re investing billions to capture carbon pollution so that we can clean up our coal plants. Just this week, we announced that for the first time ever, we’ll begin tracking how much greenhouse gas pollution is being emitted throughout the country. Later this week, I will work with my colleagues at the G20 to phase out fossil fuel subsidies so that we can better address our climate challenge. And already, we know that the recent drop in overall U.S. emissions is due in part to steps that promote greater efficiency and greater use of renewable energy.If the Senate and the House could come to an agreement on the climate bill, Obama would certainly be in a stronger position to push a stronger climate treaty. But in order to avoid being a disappointing collection of platitudes, calls for action need to include strong, science-based targets on emissions reductions so that we can get back to a sustainable level of CO2 in our atmosphere. Read the full released speech here.
Tuesday, 22 September 2009 10:43 Written by Paul Burman
Tuesday, 22 September 2009 09:45 Written by Ivan Chan
In the DC metro area, it's Car Free Day, encouraging commuters to consider alternatives to driving. If more people biked, took transit or walked, not only would it free up some room on the highways and roads, it would reduce air pollution and encourage exercise. In fact, the DC metro area has some of the lowest air quality in the country. Although as a region DC has some avid runners and great trails, more people could take advantage of the area's outdoor offerings especially on weekends. The events are in conjunction with World Car Free Day, each Sept. 22. Learn more about the events around Car Free Day here. Also, you can offset your carbon footprint with Carbonfund.org in support of outstanding projects that are reducing carbon emissions in the US and abroad. Get started- calculate your carbon footprint!
Monday, 21 September 2009 12:33 Written by Ivan Chan
Newsweek released its 2009 Green Rankings of America's largest companies, and Carbonfund.org partners including Dell, Staples and Motorola came out among the leading companies! Dell was recognized for its renewable energy use as well as having its operations carbon neutral through carbon offsets. In addition, Newsweek recognized the company for its product take-back and recycling programs. Carbonfund.org has worked with Dell on its Plant a Tree for Me campaign. You can learn more about it and donate here. We've also worked with Staples on in-store/point-of-purchase and other efforts of the company. In addition, the company has increased the use of recycled content in the paper it sells and energy efficiency at its stores. Motorola, which also purchases renewable energy, launched the world's first carbon neutral mobile phone after working with Carbonfund.org to certify the MOTO W233 Renew phone carbon neutral, earning the CarbonFree® Certified label-- the first label in the US for carbon neutral products. Motorola will soon be launching a carbon neutral mobile phone certified by Carbonfund.org in Latin America as well. We applaud our partners for earning the Newsweek honors and look forward to continue working with our partners in helping them achieve their environmental & climate goals. Congratulations!! Learn more about Carbonfund.org's business programs, for small and large businesses.
Monday, 21 September 2009 11:49 Written by Ivan Chan
As we've been writing on the Carbonfund.org blog, there's a growing view that action, and strong action, need to be taken on global warming- perhaps the greatest environmental challenge facing the world today. Although countries remain split on how best to arrive at an international agreement on climate change at the upcoming COP15/Copenhagen climate talks, upcoming events such as the UN General Assembly meeting this week give diplomats and national leaders the chance to iron out differences. Jim Tankersley of the Los Angeles Times writes that President Obama and the Administration are expected to refocus on climate change. This could mean, for example, balancing the current healthcare discussions in Congress, with discussions on climate change. Among the challenges are time, given that the climate talks are slated for December. Tankersley notes,
If the US Senate fails to pass a climate bill before Copenhagen, 'it would open the United States to the charge that it does not take its international commitments seriously, and that these commitments will always take second place to domestic politics,' Ambassador John Bruton, head of the European Commission Delegation to the United States, warned last week.Obama is expected to give a speech at the United Nations General Assembly tomorrow addressing, among other topics, global warming. Separately, Reuters reported that the President will stress at the COP15 climate talks that climate change is a shared problem and every nation must respond, according to US Ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice.
Fashion Fights Poverty is causing waves in the fashion community by making this year’s Annual Benefit CarbonFree®. Every year Fashion Fights Poverty brings the top eco and ethical high-end fashion designers to the nation’s capital. In what the Washington Post describes as “one of the largest fashion fundraisers in Washington, DC,” the Annual Benefit raises money to combat poverty in some of the poorest parts of the world. By focusing on sustainability, eco friendly, and ethical designs, Fashion Fights Poverty sets the bar for responsibility in the fashion industry. This year’s Annual Benefit exemplifies that commitment, as Fashion Fights Poverty has offset the event's carbon footprint with Carbonfund.org. Take their message to heart – know where your clothes come from, who makes them, and what they’re made out of. We can all make an impact and help better the world through fashion.