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G5: Public Policy

Companies will clearly state their position on relevant sustainability public policy issues.  Any lobbying will be done transparently and in a manner consistent with sustainability commitments and strategies.
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Winning the Wind Energy Battle.

When Congress avoided the fiscal cliff and passed the American Taxpayer Relief Act on January 2, they decided to include a one-year extension of the Production Tax Credit (PTC). Garnering support for the PTC, which provides a vital tax benefit to qualifying wind energy projects, was a long road and its success is due in large part to leadership of the business community.  Learn more about how Sprint CEO, Dan Hesse, engaged the U.S. Department of Energy to argue the demand-side business case for extending the PTC. Read more….

Check out Roadmap in Action for more examples of how companies are implementing the Ceres Roadmap.

Boards and executive team members should be involved in the development of the company’s public policy positions, and companies should disclose their positions, as well as their membership in and contributions to trade associations. When appropriate, companies should play an active role in developing trade association positions that encourage best practice sustainability performance consistent with their own environmental and social performance goals.

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 reputational risks if they are unresponsive to climate change, whether in their operations, products or policy positions.

Forward thinking climate and energy policy also 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.

In 2008 Ceres, together with the founding companies—Levi Strauss & Co., Nike, Starbucks, and Timberland—launched Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy or BICEP.  BICEP has grown to include 24 members and continues to bring large consumer company voices to the climate and energy policy debate.  BICEP members believe that climate change impacts all sectors of the economy and that varied business perspectives are needed in developing U.S. and international climate policies. These businesses and others continue to push for strong international and U.S. domestic policies providing emissions reductions and market certainty necessary to unleash much-needed investments to develop innovative solutions for climate change.

In April 2013, 33 major U.S. companies, signed a “Climate Declaration,” urging federal policymakers to take action on climate change, asserting that a bold response to the climate challenge is one of the greatest American economic opportunities of the 21st century.  Signatories of the Climate Declaration are among the country’s best-known consumer brands, including Nike, eBay, EMC Corporation, IKEA, Jones Lang LaSalle, L’Oréal, The North Face, the Portland Trail Blazers, and Unilever, among others.

Together, the Declaration signatories provide approximately 475,000 U.S. jobs and generate a combined annual revenue of approximately $450 billion. Extreme weather events like Hurricane Sandy have affected several Climate Declaration signatories and exposed the United States’ economic vulnerability to climate change. The signatories of the Climate Declaration are calling for Congress to address climate change by promoting clean energy, boosting efficiency and limiting carbon emissions – strategies that these businesses already employ within their own operations.

How Are Companies Performing?

In The Road to 2020: Corporate Progress on The Ceres Roadmap For Sustainability, we evaluated 600 of the largest U.S. companies on their progress towards meeting the expectations laid forth in the Ceres Roadmap for Sustainability.

For this first report it was not possible to capture all of the data required to fully assess all of The Ceres Roadmap expectations.  For some Ceres Roadmap expectations, companies are not yet disclosing the information needed to assess their progress and in other cases, we did not have access to the type of data needed to adequately assess corporate progress.

We will be looking at additional indicators in the future to capture the meaning of the expectations more completely and will develop new indicators to capture data as it is more readily disclosed by companies.