U.S. Chamber of Commerce wants market-based climate action
By Elise Koepke
Early this year, the United States Chamber of Commerce published an update to their position on climate change, endorsing a market-based approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. That’s great news for our work at CCL, as carbon pricing policies such as the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act fall right into that “market-based” category.
“This is a huge step in our direction,” said Kyle Kammien, CCL’s Senior Business Relations Representative with our D.C. office. While the Chamber did not explicitly endorse carbon pricing, the announcement is a significant step forward from its previous stance. It’s the first time the business group has publicly supported a solution to climate change, and Kyle and other grasstops leaders are excited. “It’s a clear shift in how they plan to address and evaluate policies that will be used to address climate change at the legislative level,” he said.
On top of the thousands of businesses it represents, the Chamber of Commerce holds substantial sway with Republican legislators and conservative industries. As a voice for American enterprise, the Chamber’s stamp of approval could open the door for more Republican lawmakers to publicly support carbon pricing.
CCLers are leveraging the Chamber’s position
While CCL’s D.C. office is managing communication with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce at the national level, our volunteers can use this news as a chance to build relationships with their local Chambers of Commerce.
Sometimes it can be tough to get a ‘seat at the table’ at a local chamber, so reaching out to businesses in your community is a good way to start. By fostering partnerships with the inside voices that are already at the table, you’re that much closer to moving your local chamber forward on climate.
Members of CCL’s Asheville chapter took that approach to the next level. The group had previously delivered sustainability presentations to their local chamber without much success. The U.S. Chamber’s updated statement gave them a new way to try connecting with their local chamber. Lead organizer Steffi Rausch and her team assembled a group of Asheville businesses to send a letter directly to the Asheville Chamber of Commerce requesting a meeting or endorsement.
“We compared our endorsement list to our Chamber members,” explained Rausch, whose team identified 26 businesses on the Asheville Chamber who already support carbon pricing. From there, they wrote a letter addressing the economic statement from the U.S. Chamber point by point. The group is hopeful that the letter will get their Chamber’s attention because it will “come from the business owners themselves.”
Volunteers are also using the U.S. Chamber’s updated position to generate buzz about climate solutions in their local media. CCL’s Jacksonville chapter used a local press release template to alert local journalists to the story. They made headlines on their local NPR affiliate station with this piece.
Engaging your local Chamber
If you’d like to take this opportunity to engage your local Chamber of Commerce like the Asheville and Jacksonville chapters, check out CCL’s core training on Engaging Your Chamber of Commerce.
During this training, Kammien and CCL Miami chapter leader Greg Hamra emphasized the power of forming personal relationships with chamber members. You can look up your local Chamber of Commerce and browse the list of members to see if you recognize any businesses or individuals. “Chances are, you already know some people who are members of the Chamber,” Hamra explained.
Once you’ve identified business leaders to reach out to, you can cultivate those relationships by proposing a presentation or attending any events they may host. Hamra underscored the importance of bringing businesses on board with your outreach—not only seeking their endorsement, but also turning them into advocates for the policy can have a ripple effect in the business community.
“Show Congress that there is strong support in the district for the Energy Innovation Act—and what better voice than the voice of business? This is an amazingly powerful resource that you have at your disposal. All it takes is making some conversations,” he said.
Know a business leader who may want to learn more about carbon pricing? CCL is hosting a conference on April 13th for businesses who support the policy, or who may want to learn more. You can find more information and register here.
Elise Koepke is a communications intern with Citizens’ Climate Lobby. She is a recent graduate of the Georgia Institute of Technology, where she studied Earth Science.