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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Read answers to frequently asked questions (FAQ) about BICEP, Ceres and climate and energy legislation.

What is BICEP’s mission?

BICEP’s goal is to work directly with key allies in the business community and with policy makers to pass meaningful energy and climate change legislation that is consistent with our core principles.

BICEP offers an arena for businesses to advance climate and energy policies that counter the far-reaching risks and challenges posed by global climate change. BICEP members believe that climate change will impact all sectors of the economy and that various business perspectives are needed to provide a full spectrum of viewpoints for solving the climate and energy challenges facing America.

What is BICEP’s position on climate change and economic growth?

BICEP members believe that the recent economic crisis and the looming threat of global warming together present a profound opportunity for U.S. businesses.  The bold steps that are needed to restore the US economy are closely related to actions needed to solve the climate crisis.  A rapid transition to a 21st century, low-carbon economy will create new jobs and stimulate economic growth while stabilizing the earth’s climate.

Why do BICEP members care about climate change and energy policy?

Forward thinking climate and energy policy presents huge economic opportunities for businesses to create new climate-friendly technologies and products such as energy efficient computer servers, fuel-efficient equipment or carbon-free consumer items. Companies that move quickly to develop and utilize such technologies will have a competitive advantage over their industry peers, especially as the low-carbon global economy takes hold. Case in point: Toyota and Honda’s aggressive push to provide hybrids and other fuel-efficient vehicles has given the Japanese automakers a distinct competitive edge over struggling U.S. automakers.

All companies, not just the major direct emitters, will be impacted by climate change, whether by physical impacts, new regulations or competitive risks. Physical impacts such as extreme weather events, prolonged drought and sea level rise will likely worsen over time in many parts of the world, causing ripples in company operations and supply chains. New carbon-reducing regulations will impact energy pricing across entire operations, supply chains and distribution systems. Competitive risks include company responses in developing – or not developing – low-carbon technologies and products compared to their industry peers. Companies also face reputation risks if they are unresponsive to climate change, whether in their operations, products or policy positions.

How will effective climate change and energy legislation benefit the U.S. economy and create jobs?

Strong climate and energy policies in the U.S. will provide much-needed ‘market signals’ to galvanize large-scale clean technology development that will ultimately improve the competitive positioning of U.S. companies as the low-carbon global economy grows larger. Overseas companies are now on the cutting edge of developing renewable energy technologies while the U.S. is lagging behind.

Immediate policy action, including clean energy incentives, will help reverse the current economic slowdown by creating millions of new jobs.  According to the Department of Energy, investments of up to $2.3 billion for advanced energy manufacturing facilities could generate more than 17,000 jobs. This investment would be matched by as much as $5.4 billion in private sector funding likely supporting up to 41,000 additional jobs.”

The U.S. Department of Commerce's own economic data shows that investments in clean energy (energy efficiency and renewable energy) create more jobs per dollar invested than tax cuts, military spending, or oil and natural gas development. The report’s specific findings: 16 to 17 jobs created per million dollars spent on public infrastructure and green investment vs. 14 jobs/million spent on tax cuts, 11 jobs/million spent on military and four jobs/million spent on oil and natural gas. Moreover, clean energy jobs are likely to be centered in the U.S., unlike jobs in the oil and gas sector that are increasingly spread around the world.

Instead of worrying about old jobs being outsourced to China and India, U.S. policy makers should focus on creating new jobs in new green industries. A recent Worldwatch Institute report found worldwide employment in renewable energy already exceeds more than four million, including about 750,000 in solar alone. Renewable energy jobs are expected to swell substantially as private investment and government support for alternative energy sources grow. The UN Environmental Programme suggests that investment in the global renewable energy sector needs to reach $500 billion by 2020 in order to achieve peak carbon emissions in 2020, and this investment would create millions more jobs in the solar and wind industries.

Given the economic downturn, wouldn’t it be better to put off climate and energy legislation until later?

Absolutely not. Studies show that the costs of inaction will be far greater than the costs of cutting global warming pollution today. A 2006 report by economist Nicholas Stern found that global gross domestic product (GDP) would be depressed 5 to 20 percent annually by 2050 with no action on climate change, while spending just 1 percent of GDP to control CO2 emissions could stave off the worst impacts and potentially devastating economic consequences. (Due to faster-than-expected climate changes, Lord Stern testified before Congress in June 2008 that expenditures representing 1 to 2 percent of GDP would be needed to avert the worst impacts of climate change.)

What are military leaders recommending with regard to national security?

Military experts are calling for quick action to stabilize the climate. “We will pay for this one way or the other. We will pay to reduce greenhouse gas emissions today ... or we will pay the price later in military terms,” said retired Marine Corps General Anthony C. Zinni, former commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East. “And that will be a human toll. There is no way out of this that does not have real costs attached to it. That has to hit home.”

What are the world’s largest investors supporting?

The world’s largest investors also support strong action. “Government leaders have before them a historic opportunity to ‘climate proof’ their economies as they upgrade infrastructure as a core response to any economic downturn,” said Mark Fulton, global chief of climate change investment research at Deutsche Asset Management, in October 2008.

More than 260 investors, with assets totaling over $15 trillion, released an international investor statement in November 2010 to U.S. and other government leaders advocating strong domestic and international policies to address climate change.

Is BICEP opposed to development of new coal-fired power plants?

BICEP is not opposed to new coal plants that limit greenhouse gas emissions. Coal-fired power plants currently have the highest emissions of all of the fossil fuel-based power plants, according to the U.S. EPA. Coal is responsible for one-third of all carbon emissions, in the U.S (source: EIA). Therefore, rapid development and deployment of technologies that will reduce carbon emissions from coal-fired plants is an essential way to cut back on global warming pollution in this country.

Can the U.S. economy grow without new coal plants?

Easily. We can grow the U.S. economy without new coal plants—by investing in cost-effective energy efficiency and in all renewable energy sources.

Studies by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) and the McKinsey Global Institute show that we can meet growing energy needs with ‘Negawatts’ — or energy efficiency investments. Instead of building an 800 megawatt coal plant, for example, we can save the equivalent amount of megawatts by investing in cost-effective efficiency opportunities—such as lighting retrofits, improved air conditioning systems and building control systems, and higher performance electronics and appliances.

The opportunities for saving energy and money are vast and untapped in the United States. The McKinsey Global Institute estimates that exhausting all energy efficiency opportunities would save up to $40 billion in the U.S. alone and cut projected energy demand in half by 2020, essentially negating the need for new coal-fired power plants. It also suggests that annual investments of $170 billion for the next 13 years would generate annual energy savings ramping up to $900 billion annually by 2020.

What is the potential for wind, solar and other alternative energy sources in the U.S.?

There is vast potential for wind and solar power in the United States. A recent U.S. Energy Department report concluded that the U.S. could generate one-fifth of its electricity from wind power by 2030, up from just 2 percent today. A 2010 study by top energy experts, convened by the American Solar Energy Association, concluded that solar energy could provide about 10 to 20 percent of the country’s energy needs by 2030.

How can other companies join BICEP?

BICEP welcomes new members. Please contact Anne Kelly, Director, BICEP, at kelly@ceres.org or 617-247-0700 X 135.

Which companies are eligible to join BICEP?

Criteria for membership in BICEP include agreement with BICEP principles and demonstrated leadership on climate and sustainability issues. BICEP members are required to pay an annual administrative fee.