Business Roundtable Supports Urgent Congressional Action on Climate Change
By Matt Sonnesyn, VP, Infrastructure, Energy & Environment
Business Roundtable remains deeply concerned about the urgent, growing threat of a changing climate and supports congressional action to prevent its worst potential outcomes. A new United Nations report released last Friday estimates the world is on a path to realize 2.7°C rise in global temperature by the end of the century unless drastic action is taken. Other recent scientific studies from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) suggest that many of the worst impacts of climate change may be realized with a 1.5°C rise in global temperature. In 2020, 22 separate billion-dollar weather and climate disasters cost the United States a combined $95 billion in damages according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. We can’t afford the costs of inaction.
The United States has made significant progress toward reducing emissions, in part because of corporate leadership in the absence of a smart, national climate policy. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), since 2005, national greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the United States have fallen by 10 percent and power sector emissions have fallen by 27 percent — even as our economy grew by 25 percent. According to the 2020 Science Based Targets Initiative Annual Progress Report, the planned emissions reductions of companies with approved science-based targets will channel up to $25.9 billion of new investment into mitigation activities over the next decade. It’s an important start, but it’s not enough. That’s why we need Congress to act if we hope to avoid what could be trillions of dollars in costs to our economy over the coming decades. Nailing down durable and effective national climate policy that limits warming to levels well below 2°C, as conveyed in the Paris Agreement, is also critical to America’s global leadership and support for international climate action at COP26.
One year ago, Business Roundtable released new principles and policies to address climate change, including support for a market-based strategy that includes a price on carbon where feasible and effective. Today, a price on carbon remains the most important consideration for encouraging innovation, driving energy efficiency and ensuring the needed emissions reductions to mitigate climate change. Among other things, smart climate policy that includes a price on carbon should allow U.S. companies to remain competitive, ensure Americans are able to better withstand and recover from extreme weather events, and ensure communities most impacted by the transition to a low-carbon future are able to thrive.
Our members support complementary strategies for reducing emissions and avoiding climate disaster while advancing a climate resilient economy. We welcome continued efforts to improve energy efficiency, to research and develop new, cleaner technologies, and to deploy those technologies at scale. We believe that, absent an economy-wide, uniform approach to addressing emissions, policies aimed at substantially reducing emissions in the electricity sector with market-based attributes and a broad range of resources and technologies eligible for credit could be constructed similarly to — and in coordination with — existing state and local policies to both reduce GHG emissions and benefit the economy.
Congress is currently pursuing elements of climate policy as part of a much broader legislative package. Business Roundtable’s position on the package needs to be based on the totality of what is included, and the legislation marked up by the House Ways and Means Committee includes nearly $1 trillion dollars in taxes on job creators, one of the largest corporate tax increases in history. It would put American jobs at risk, stunt wage growth and suppress business investment and innovation, including in new technologies to address climate change.
The climate crisis deserves focused attention and unified effort from both the public and private sectors. Business Roundtable remains committed to that effort.