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Countdown to Copenhagen: Business needs a clean slate

Over the coming weeks and months, Greenbang will publish a series of features focused on preparations for the 7 – 18 December United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP15, for short) to be held in Copenhagen.

Our aim: to highlight not only what needs to be done to effectively address the ever-more dire threat of climate change, but to shine the light on who’s doing what right … and who’s doing what wrong.

Today, we look at three utility companies that this past week have taken a significant step in the right direction in hopes that many more will follow in their footsteps. The stakes have grown too high for corporations to continue trying to have their cake and eat it too … that is, to proclaim they’re in favour of action on global warming at the same time they support industries or organisations that are working actively against such action.

Since last Tuesday (22 September), top officials at three US energy firms — Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), the Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM) and Exelon — have announced they will no longer be members in the US Chamber of Commerce. PG&E Chairman and CEO Peter Darbee attributed his decision to the chamber’s “disingenuous attempts to diminish or distort the reality” of climate change.

In addition to opposing legislative action to control greenhouse gas emissions, the chamber this summer issued a ridiculous call to have a Scopes-like “monkey trial of the 21st century” to challenge the US Environmental Protection Agency on climate science. (Note to chamber: While high school teacher John Scopes was found guilty of teaching evolution in the original monkey trial, the science behind evolution — like that behind climate change — is solidly established.)

So hats off to PG&E, PNM and Exelon; their example is one that other chamber members should follow. And who are these other members? The chamber notes on its website that it doesn’t divulge its member list, but here are a few of the firms with representation on the organisation’s board of directors who could use a nudge in the right direction (though it’s worth noting that some members, including Nike, have publicly questioned the chamber’s stance on climate change, although they haven’t quit):

  • Pfizer Inc.
  • Massey Energy Company
  • ConocoPhillips
  • Kimberly-Clark Corporation
  • Fox Entertainment Group
  • Cargill, Inc.
  • Rolls-Royce North America, Inc.
  • US Airways
  • Harrah’s Entertainment, Inc.
  • The Dow Chemical Company
  • American Medical Association
  • Peabody Energy
  • Anheuser-Busch Companies
  • The Carlyle Group
  • PEPCO Holdings Inc.
  • Duke Energy Corp.
  • Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corporation
  • State Farm Insurance Companies
  • Deere & Company
  • Entergy Services, Inc.
  • Amway
  • Southern Company

You can view the full list of companies with representatives on the chamber’s board of directors here.

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