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The Climate for Action

Posted by Anne L. Kelly at Aug 15, 2012 03:00 AM |
In November 2008, five companies banded together to send a message to Washington. Nike, Levi Strauss & Co. Starbucks, Sun Microsystems and Timberland stood up for a clean energy economy.

In November 2008, five companies banded together to send a message to Washington. Nike, Levi Strauss & Co. Starbucks, Sun Microsystems and Timberland stood up for a clean energy economy, declaring: “American Businesses Agree: The Climate is Right for Action.”

Those five courageous companies joined Ceres in founding BICEP or “Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy.” A few months later, eBay, Gap, Inc. and Symantec joined their ranks. Their goal: promote policies that reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and encourage smarter, cleaner energy use.

Did they have skin in the game? Yes, thick skin. In the face of media cynicism, climate denial and political opposition, the BICEP companies stood up for ambitious change. They fought hard for comprehensive climate legislation. When that bill failed in the summer of 2010, they were not deterred. They stayed in the ring and thrived—growing to include 23 companies.

But did they have real skin in the game? Indeed, they do. Leather, cotton and coffee are critical links in a global supply chain now threatened by a changing climate. For some businesses, the Outdoor Industry Association and Aspen Ski Company in particular, their success depends on a thriving winter and reasonably predictable temperatures. Smart policies from Washington are essential to their very survival.

Over the past several years BICEP companies have offered crucial support for the right policies when it counted most. BICEP supported the proposed 54.5 miles per gallon fuel-efficiency standards in 2011. Last month, that standard became law. In Utah, eBay forged new policy ground by building a data center that will be 100 percent powered by renewable energy. True to their name, the Portland Trail Blazers opened the largest electric vehicle charging station in the Northwest region earlier this year. Jones Lang LaSalle helped to retrofit the entire Empire State Building to save more than $1 million a year in energy usage.

These achievements are examples of BICEP members demonstrating leadership. It is only the beginning. In creating this blog, we plan to celebrate many more. We invite you to share stories of businesses that are standing up for climate and energy policies, and we ask you for your comments, your tweets and your ideas.

The climate for action continues in Washington, as does BICEP’s commitment to be there.