President Obama is pledging a provisional target for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, the first time in more than a decade that an American administration has offered even a tentative promise to reduce production of climate-altering gases
The nation’s corporations have long been bracing for the day when they would be required to carry out sharp cuts in the emissions that cause global warming.
Much of corporate America has already been thinking about how to comply. Many businesses concluded years ago that such limits were inevitable, and they have been calling on Congress to define the exact rules they will need to follow.
Sustainability — a notion mostly heard in environmental circles only a decade ago — has become a mainstream idea to which some companies are committed and many are paying lip service.
Major corporations, including General Electric, the Ford Motor Company and PepsiCo, have teamed up with environmental groups to set up the United States Climate Action Partnership, a wide-ranging coalition trying to find ways to cut emissions throughout the economy.
Wal-Mart, the nation’s top retailer, has outlined strict goals to reduce energy consumption at its stores and has instructed hundreds of thousands of suppliers to report their energy usage and carbon dioxide emissions.
H. Lee Scott Jr., Wal-Mart’s president and chief executive, said, “Sustainability can and should be a big part of the solution.”
It is bound to hurt some energy-intensive businesses, like petroleum refiners and coal-fired power plants, and some manufacturers, while bolstering the development of alternative power industries like solar and wind.
But those businesses are not sustainable. They contribute to our pollution and global warming problems. Their leaders speak out against climate legislation and pay massive amounts of money to lobbyists to resist legislation that will lead us toward a healthier future. While the magnates of the petrochemical, coal and petroleum industries speak out about job losses and economic damage from curtailing their businesses, what they’re really protecting is their own wealth – these are the folks at the very top of the financial ivory tower – and their right to protect their incomes earned at the expense of our health, a healthy environment and future. These people have become wealthy on our backs, and now our time has come. They’ve had a good run, now it is our turn.
“In the midst of a severe recession with 10.2 percent national unemployment, our economy, the creation of jobs and consumer impact should take much greater precedence over attempts to impress international bureaucrats during an annual convention,” Charles T. Drevna, the president of the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association.
Some of the nation’s biggest trade groups, including the powerful United States Chamber of Commerce and the American Farm Bureau Federation, have also been fighting the climate legislation through ads and a protracted lobbying battle on Capital Hill.
The National Association of Manufacturers said recently that a climate bill would result in job losses and slower economic growth.