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New House energy committee chair Rep. Upton grows skeptical about climate change and waits for business to change his mind

Are Michigan companies listening to climate-conscious consumers?

(Photo from flickr)

In a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed, new House energy committee chair Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) continued changing his tune from being a climate solutions advocate to a climate change skeptic when he aligned himself with fellow skeptic and Americans For Prosperity (AFP) President Tim Phillips to support the lawsuits by global warming polluters against climate rules.

Upton has morphed from someone who viewed climate change as a “serious problem” in need of “serious solutions” to someone who’s not even convinced the science supporting climate change is conclusive. Moreover, Upton has thrown his support behind a lawsuit blocking the EPA’s ability to regulate greenhouse gases, specifically the EPA’s ability to issue new emissions standards for oil refineries and coal-fired power plants.

Here’s a look, thanks to Brad Johnson of Grist, at Upton’s climate change stance over the past eighteen months:

  • April 2009: “Climate change is a serious problem that necessitates serious solutions.”
  • June 2009: “We have a unique opportunity and a responsibility to reduce emissions and preserve our economy — the American public is desperate for solutions, but a national energy tax is not the answer.”
  • December 2009: “I think we can lower our emissions. I think the world will be better off if we did that, and we can do it without cap-and-trade.”
  • January 2010: “No matter what we did between now and 2050, it, there was no real science to verify that it would reduce the temperature rise that some predicted. And that’s why we do need hearings.”
  • December 2010: “Moreover, the principal argument for a two-year delay is that it will allow Congress time to create its own plan for regulating carbon. This presumes that carbon is a problem in need of regulation. We are not convinced.”

An about-face to say the least.

What can we do to convince the powerful politician that our nation needs to aggressively find alternatives to fossil fuels? First, let’s think about where his campaign checks are coming from.

It should come as no surprise that Upton’s campaigns — like most politicians — have corporate funding. If we as climate-conscious voters and climate-conscious consumers tell Pfizer and Time Warner – both of which helped fund Upton’s campaign — that we care what companies do to address climate change, over time they’ll begin to listen and will either make that clear to the candidates they support, or they’ll choose to support different ones.

If we tell the companies scored by Climate Counts that are based in Upton’s home state of Michigan — Kellogg’s, Whirlpool, Steelcase, La-Z-Boy, Masco, and Herman Miller — that we’re noticing their climate actions and want their help shifting Upton’s climate stance, we’ll have the top four Climate Counts scored furniture companies, the highest scoring appliance company, and an improving food giant making it clear to Upton that tackling climate change is an important part of how they do business.

That’s a combined revenue of $43.31 billion going into the Michigan economy and close to 100,000 valuable Michigan jobs in a state with more than 12% unemployment. If these companies start asking Upton to change his tune, do you think he’ll listen then? We do.

Remember how quickly Upton forgot he believed in climate change? Altering his corporate funding will jog his memory just as quickly.

Take a minute and send an e-mail. Your consumer dollars are what fuel this whole system.

Climate Counts company scores let you see which companies are showing true climate action by scoring them on the four key benchmarks to climate leadership: reviewing emissions, reducing emissions, public policy positions, and transparency. So when it comes to those necessity purchases, you have the power to use your dollars to support those companies that reflect your own concerns about climate change. But the fight against climate change doesn’t stop at your wallet, Climate Counts gives you the power to “raise your voice” directly to these same global corporations through e-mail and Twitter.

Mark Harrison is the Campaign Coordinator at ClimateCounts.org and can be reached at mharrison@climatecounts.org. You can also follow Climate Counts.org on Twitter @ClimateCounts.


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