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March, 2012

March 26th, 2012

News on Climate Change diminishes even as Major Corporations make strides to Reduce Emissions

The Center for Science and Technology Policy Research recently released their findings on the cycle of world newspaper coverage on climate change or global warming since 2004. As evidenced by the graph below, there has been a shockingly low rate of coverage in the past two years. So where has all the buzz about climate change and global warming disappeared to?

In though economic times, the only thing that seems to be on anyone’s minds is the state of the economy and the creation of jobs. Understandably, saving the environment is a luxury that becomes secondary when a person’s livelihood is at risk. But should the state of the economy necessarily change what one believes to be scientifically true?

Even in tough economic times, major corporations prove their commitment to mitigating climate change. Let’s take a look at a few of these corporations.

According to IBM’s climate protection plan, “between 1990 and 2010, IBM saved 5.4 billion kWh of electricity consumption avoided nearly 3.6 million metric tons of CO2 emissions (equal to 52 percent of the company’s 1990 global CO2 emissions) and saved $399 million through its annual energy conservation actions.”

In 2007, Nike moved beyond focusing solely on their own operational impact by cofounding Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy (BICEP), a coalition of businesses to advocate for climate change legislation.

Bank of America has made a 10-year, $20 billion commitment in lending, investments, products and services focused on addressing climate change. Guided by their business goals, they have set and are continually pursuing meaningful targets and actions toward a low-carbon future.

Even former CEO of Xcel Energy Dick Kelly recognizes that we need to shift away from fossil fuels and quit denying climate science. In an interview for Think Progress, Kelly stated “I don’t know how [congress] can deny the science. I really don’t.”

While these corporations are proud to be making strides to reduce their carbon emissions, some multi-national companies are shifting how they market to the American public for fear of backlash.  For example, Coca-cola’s Canadian Arctic Home campaign more overtly discussed climate issues, while their American version took a softer approach for fear of alienating a divided American public on the issue of climate change.

But big corporations aren’t the only ones who recognize the urgency of climate change action. The Catholic Church created the Catholic Climate Covenant, which urges fellow Catholic to take action to reduce their carbon footprint, care for “the least of these” (Matthew 25) and raise their voice on behalf of Creation and the poor. In addition, Pope Benedict XVI pressed delegates of 194 countries gathering in Durban, South Africa during the international climate change negotiations to reach a strong global agreement to address the challenge of climate change.

Even the U.N.’s climate chief is looking to the private sector in the US to lead the way forward to a low-carbon future. The U.N. has realized that high-powered companies have a push-factor on decision-makers that should be utilized, recognizing world leaders such as Unilever, Coca-Cola, and Wal-Mart as example companies.

If members of the international business community have accepted climate science and taken action to reduce their carbon admissions, why have Americans proven to stubborn about being so singularly focused on the economy? The answer isn’t simple. People believe that addressing climate change will hinder economic growth and the creation of jobs when in fact, the opposite is more like to be true. Climate change action can drive our economy and create jobs simultaneously. Following the lead of major corporations like Unilever, Nike and IBM, it is time for America to see the challenge of mitigating climate change as an ingredient to regaining our status as a dominant global economic power.

- Susan Torman, Communications Intern- Climate Counts


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