Industry gets the message: A price on carbon is good for business

representative scott peters

Rep. Scott Peters (CA-52) addressed the Business Advocates for Carbon Pricing conference this month.

Industry gets the message: A price on carbon is good for business

By Mark Menzer

“This is the moment!” That was a common refrain at this month’s Business Advocates for Carbon Pricing conference, hosted by CCL and the Business Climate Leaders (BCL) Action Team. The conference was a two-and-a-half-hour virtual event on April 13, which included a panel discussion, keynote remarks from a member of Congress, and sessions to help businesses become better advocates. In attendance were business leaders, many of whom have endorsed a federal policy of carbon fee and dividend. The aim of the conference was to provide an update on a new bill in Congress and to promote further advocacy by businesses. As CCL’s Senior Business Relations Representative Kyle Kammien stated, “A national carbon fee and dividend is the strongest policy tool we have to reach net-zero carbon emissions, and business support is critical to that policy’s success.“

Rep. Peters sets the stage

The keynote speaker of the Business Advocates for Carbon Pricing conference was Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA-52), a co-sponsor of the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (H.R. 2307). He noted that the U.S. has never accomplished anything significant with just one political party, calling for bipartisan support of the Energy Innovation Act, which uses market mechanisms to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. He noted that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), and even the American Petroleum Institute recognize that a carbon fee is the most expedient way to move the needle on carbon emissions.

Rep. Peters’ remarks made it clear that the real debate on a national climate change policy is now getting serious. With the president’s climate plan on the table, it’s time for Congress to shape its legislative package. Advocacy from businesses can help a policy like the Energy Innovation Act make it into that package.

Dr. Danny Richter, CCL’s Vice President of Government Affairs, put the objective in focus by reviewing the status and prospects for the Energy Innovation Act. Though it was just introduced this month, the bill already has 40 cosponsors, due to the patient and persistent work of CCL volunteers.

Dr. Richter pointed out that most major economies already have a price on carbon. U.S. companies could face a major expense in paying those taxes overseas, once those countries have carbon border adjustments. A U.S. carbon price would even the playing field.

Business owners share their advocacy tips

Businesses can make a real difference in these national policy discussions. During the Business Advocates for Carbon Pricing event, we held a panel discussion with business owners who are already working with Congress to advocate for solutions. Pete Marsh, a solar designer and a Business Climate Leader, moderated the panel.

Geraldine Link, Director of Public Policy for the U.S. Ski Area Association, acknowledged that Washington can feel intimidating at first. But, she noted, elected officials and their staff want to hear from constituents and their personal stories. She added that having a company CEO or owner as a part of a lobbying group makes it more likely the group will get face time with a member of Congress.

Mike Melke, Vice President of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, also emphasized that representatives want to hear from job creators in their district. They want to understand what will help or hurt their business. While they may not want to hear all the details of the policy, they do want to hear your story.

Joe Brinkley, Director of Operations with Fetzer Vineyards said that working with CCL and Business Climate Leaders was a natural extension of his company’s deep commitment to sustainability, including being climate positive by 2030. While they are taking action locally, they are counting on Congress to set a consistent national policy.  

The participants emphasized the importance of small and medium companies participating in advocating for a carbon fee and dividend. Congress does not hear from many small companies, but because they are locally based, and their employees live, play, and work locally, their opinions are taken seriously.

That’s a big reason why CCL and Business Climate Leaders work hard to build business support for a carbon fee and dividend. We provide training so that our volunteers can grow business support in their regions. BCL also reaches out directly to businesses and encourages them to take action by signing climate declarations related to their industry, such as the Wine Industry’s Climate Declaration. Over 1,000 businesses have now endorsed a carbon fee.

Climate decisions that affect businesses are being made in Congress right now. It’s time for businesses to reach out and make their voices heard. It’s how democracy works. 

If you represent a business that would like to endorse the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, please fill out the endorsement form here. As an endorser, you will get occasional updates about the status of carbon pricing in Congress and invitations to future events like this one.

Mark Menzer is a volunteer with the Business Climate Leaders Action Team.