Special Topics in Environmental Management

Business Group and Major CEOs Support Carbon Price Tag, Other Measures to Address Climate Change

The Business Roundtable (BRT), whose membership includes more than 200 major corporate CEOs, released a publication, “Addressing Climate Change,” reflecting the group’s recommendations for a carbon emissions pricing policy and other market-based principles in response to climate change.

Air pollution, pollutants, smokestacks

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This is a large signal that certain segments in the business community disagree with the Trump administration.

“Business Roundtable believes corporations should lead by example, support sound public policies and drive the innovation needed to address climate change,” BRT wrote. “To this end, the United States should adopt a more comprehensive, coordinated and market-based approach to reduce emissions. This approach must be pursued in a manner that ensures environmental effectiveness while fostering innovation, maintaining U.S. competitiveness, maximizing compliance flexibility, and minimizing costs to business and society.”

The group also stated that it supports “a market-based emissions reduction strategy that includes a price on carbon where it is environmentally and economically effective and administratively feasible, but it does not endorse any specific market-based mechanism.”

A carbon-pricing strategy is widely supported by experts, investors, policymakers, civil society groups, and others, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. “Carbon pricing programs are already in use in many states and countries, including in California, the nine Northeast states that belong to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, and Europe.”

With a price tag on carbon emissions, it becomes a pay-as-you-play scenario, which would incentivize companies “to reduce GHG emissions and mitigate climate change, including through the development and deployment of breakthrough technologies.”

In BRT’s press release about its September 16, 2020, climate change publication, the group wrote, “To combat the worst impacts of climate change, Business Roundtable CEOs are calling on businesses and governments around the world to work together to limit global temperature rise this century to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, consistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement.”

The guide signifies a shift of business mind-set from resisting change to taking a stance for action.

In addition to being opposed to the Trump administration’s policies regarding the Paris Accord, the group also protested the ever-changing regulatory climate.

The “existing patchwork of federal and state regulations, tax incentives, subsidies and other policies is inefficient and has negatively affected the long-term investment strategies of many U.S. companies by creating regulatory uncertainty. The existing fragmented policy approach is insufficient to meet the challenges posed by climate change. It is time for a new approach.”

Environmental groups have praised BRT’s actions.

“CEOs from leading corporations are making it clear that we have no time to waste when it comes to enacting policies to deal with the present and growing threat of climate change,” wrote the World Resources Institute.

BRT members include the CEOs of major utility companies such as AEP, Duke Energy, and Phillips 66. Other energy industry members include BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, and NRG Energy.

Other key members include Amazon, Boeing, Caterpillar, Cummins, Dupont, GE, General Motors, International Paper, Johnson & Johnson, Lockheed Martin, Proctor & Gamble, Raytheon, United Airlines, UPS, Union Pacific, Walmart, and Walgreens, among others.

Together, the BRT member companies have more than 15 million employees and more than $7.5 trillion in revenues.