Business, Government Partnership Remains Key to Tackling Climate Change

By George Oliver, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Johnson Controls and Chair, Business Roundtable Energy and Environment Committee

As Earth Week 2021 comes to a close, I wanted to share some reflections on how together leaders in government and business are leading the way to a sustainable, lower carbon future.

Today, I participated in the White House virtual Leaders Summit on Climate, which brought together leaders of the world’s major economies and other stakeholders for a dialogue on ways to strengthen collective efforts to address the climate crisis. I was honored to represent both the company I lead, Johnson Controls, and Business Roundtable, as Chair of the Energy and Environment Committee. While engaging with a dynamic lineup of thought leaders and experts during the Summit, I was struck by three observations.

First, only together can we mitigate the worst impacts of climate change.

For over a decade, Business Roundtable has called for collective action to address climate change. And last year, the CEO-led organization released new principles and policies to address climate change, including the use of a market-based strategy that includes a price on carbon where feasible and effective. Consistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement, 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. In the United States, this means reducing net-greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80 percent by 2050 as compared to 2005 levels.

Second, business is leading the way with ambitious climate-related goals.

Business Roundtable members are playing a significant role in driving ambitious climate action and the policy needed to spur low-carbon economic growth. The vast majority of over 220 Business Roundtable CEOs have pledged to reduce their emissions and have set ambitious targets for doing so. Nearly half of Business Roundtable companies have committed to achieving net-zero emissions in their companies by 2050 or sooner.

At Johnson Controls, our ambitious emissions reductions targets were recently approved by the Science Based Targets Initiative — an independent organization that assesses corporate sustainability claims. As part of our environmental sustainability commitments, Johnson Controls aims to cut operational emissions by 55 percent and reduce customers’ emissions by 16 percent before 2030. Our company is but one of so many other examples of how companies are committing to long-term sustainability goals and deploying comprehensive strategies to meet them.

Third, the U.S. government should continue to lead by example.

Last week, I testified before the U.S. Senate Budget Committee on the costs of inaction and underscored that the risks and potential costs associated with unchecked climate change are real, and some of these risks pose changes that may be irreversible. I detailed the core principles Business Roundtable CEOs believe should guide climate-related public policy, which include:

  • Aligning policy goals and GHG emissions reduction targets with scientific evidence;
  • Increasing global engagement, cooperation and accountability;
  • Leveraging market-based solutions wherever possible;
  • Providing for adequate transition time and long-term regulatory certainty;
  • Preserving the competitiveness of U.S. businesses, including avoiding economic and emissions “leakage”;
  • Minimizing social and economic costs for those least able to bear them;
  • Supporting both public and private investment in low-carbon and GHG emissions reduction technologies along the full innovation pipeline;
  • Minimizing administrative burdens and duplicative policies while maximizing compliance flexibility;
  • Ensuring that U.S. policies account for international emissions reductions programs;
  • Advancing climate resilience and adaption; and
  • Eliminating barriers to the deployment of emissions reduction technologies and low-carbon energy sources.

For more on the Business Roundtable policy principles and recommendations on climate, visit www.businessroundtable.org/climate.

Business Roundtable is an association of CEOs of leading U.S. companies working to promote sound public policy and a thriving U.S. economy.