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Investors worth $800bn back Obama’s US emissions reduction plan



A group of 128 companies and 49 investors, worth $800 billion in assets, has sent letters of support to Barack Obama, backing the president’s new guidelines unveiled on Monday to cut pollution from power plants.

Signatories of the letters include multinational businesses Unilever, Starbucks, Nike, Adidas, Mars and Ben & Jerry’s and leading investors Calvert Investments, F&C Management and Impax Asset Management US. They have expressed support for the new rules which were announced by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and will help cut pollution from power plants by 30% by 2030.

The letter sent by the 128 businesses, co-ordinated by responsible investor network Ceres, states, “Our support is firmly grounded in economic reality. We know that tackling climate change is one of America’s greatest economic opportunities of the 21st century and we applaud the EPA for taking steps to help the country seize that opportunity.

“We are especially pleased to see an approach that catalyzes energy efficiency and renewable energy deployment. Clean energy policies are good for our environment, the economy, and companies. Increasingly, businesses rely on renewable energy and energy efficiency solutions to improve corporate performance and cut costs. 

It adds, “The new standards will reinforce what leading companies already know: climate change poses real financial risks and substantial economic opportunities and we must act now.”

The US Chamber of Commerce, a lobby group that has been criticised in the past for funding climate change denial, was less positive about Obama’s strategy. President and CEO Thomas J Donohue said the regulations “add immense cost and regulatory burdens on America’s job creators. They will have a profound effect on the economy, on businesses, and on families”.

But in response to a report by the Chamber, published last week, the EPA’s Tom Reynolds described the organisation’s cost assumptions as “unfounded”.

Meanwhile, the Ceres investor letter – also signed by several pension funds, foundations and religious investors – adds, “To remain viable and competitive, the electric power sector must invest in cleaner technologies and more efficient resources—investments that have the potential to create jobs and grow the economy.”

The announcement also gained praise from the UK as well. Greenpeace UK’s director John Sauven said that the new regulations brought to light Britain’s relative inaction on climate change.

David Cameron hasn’t made one standalone speech on climate change since becoming prime minister”, he said.

“Obama previously said he doesn’t have time to meet with the Flat Earth Society – Cameron has appointed avowed flat-earthers to top cabinet jobs. Unless Cameron shifts his commitment to climate action up a gear, the UK will be left playing catch-up in the age of clean energy, losing out on jobs and business opportunities.”

Photo: Martin Nikolaj Bech via Flickr

Further reading:

US move to cut emissions will deliver private investment ‘certainty’

New US pollution measures ‘good signal’ for 2015 climate agreement

Obama to unveil plan to cut pollution by 25%

Bill McKibben: Obama must show muscle to tackle climate change

Obama sends strong climate change message to global counterparts in speech