Climate Agreement Urgent, Corporations Tell Obama

Microsoft, Nike and Dow Chemical join the call for ‘significant near- and long-term emissions reductions targets.’

Guest blogger Tom Kenworthy is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress.

Led by corporate powerhouses Microsoft, Nike and Dow Chemical, more than two dozen large U.S. businesses have urged President Obama to exert his leadership in securing a “robust international agreement” on global climate change in Copenhagen.

“We must put the United States on the path to significant emissions reductions, a stronger economy, and a new position of leadership in the global effort to stabilize our climate,” the corporations said in a letter sent to the president on Tuesday. “Our environment and economy are at stake.”

News of the corporations’ strong endorsement of a climate agreement came as some 100 national leaders began arriving in Copenhagen for the crucial final days of negotiations on a possible agreement on emissions reductions and the key issue of how rich nations can help finance efforts of developing countries.

In their letter, the U.S. corporations said an agreement must include “significant near- and long-term emissions reductions targets,” a “substantial” financing commitment by the industrialized world and the means to spur clean technology development. With those elements in place, the businesses said, an international agreement would “unleash the investments needed to create jobs and enhance U.S. competitiveness.”

The letter to Obama reflects the growing recognition among American corporations that strong U.S. action to combat climate change is not just an environmental imperative but will be a plus for the U.S. economy. Among the signers of the letter are PG&E and Nike, which have severed their relationship with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce because of its opposition to legislation that would require cuts in U.S. emissions. In early October hundreds of U.S. business executives lobbied Congress in support of clean energy legislation.

[The full text of the letter is copied below.]

December 15, 2009
The Honorable Barack Obama President
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:

We are major U.S.-based companies, many of which are attending COP-15, urging your leadership in helping to secure a robust international agreement now to address global climate change. This agreement has to include significant near- and long-term emissions reductions targets and strong finance provisions, with a substantial commitment of new long-term finance from developed nations, including the United States, following on the “fast start” commitments that already have been made. Such provisions also should consist of a structure for the long term and should leverage private sector investments. An international agreement also must facilitate clean technology development and transfer, with appropriate intellectual property protections. Such an agreement will provide the market certainty that will unleash the investments needed to create jobs and enhance U.S. competitiveness.

We must put the United States on the path to significant emissions reductions, a stronger economy, and a new position of leadership in the global effort to stabilize our climate. The costs of inaction far outweigh the costs of action. Our environment and economy are at stake. In addition, millions of people in developing and low-lying nations are at risk from climate and related economic dislocations, which further pose geopolitical threats. These factors highlight the urgency for the Administration to achieve a global deal in the coming days that moves us ever closer toward a legally-binding agreement that will protect us and future generations.

Many businesses are doing their part by creating innovative technologies and reducing their carbon footprints, as well as implementing complementary efficiency and renewable energy measures. However, a “sufficiently ambitious, effective and globally equitable deal [is essential to] create the conditions for transformational change in our economy and deliver the economic signals that companies need,” if they are to invest in a low carbon future.[1]
The urgency to act is clear and the need for strong leadership is paramount. We pledge to support your leadership efforts in helping secure a strong global agreement. Moreover, businesses should provide input into the negotiating process to ensure that the policies being developed will not create unintended consequences and will maximize opportunities for innovation. We view the latest bipartisan discussions being led by Senators Kerry, Graham, and Lieberman as critical to domestic action, and pledge our support for their continued efforts in the weeks and months ahead, too.

We thank you in advance for helping to protect our economic, environmental and national security interests for the future. Your forceful leadership is essential to securing an international deal to address climate change in Copenhagen. We look forward to working with you in the coming days and going forward following the Copenhagen conference.


Aspen Skiing Company
Ben & Jerry’s
Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE)
Clif Bar and Company
Dow Chemical
Duke Energy
Eileen Fisher
Gap Inc.
Ingersoll Rand
Jones Lang LaSalle
Jupiter Oxygen Corporation
Levi Strauss & Co.
Lykes Brothers, Inc.
MissionPoint Capital Partners
National Grid
Seventh Generation
Solazyme, Inc.
Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA)
Stonyfield Farm
Sun Microsystems
The North Face

Sixteen of of the companies signing the letter are members of Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy (BICEP), a network of companies coordinated by Ceres advocating for strong climate and clean energy policies in Washington. For more information on BICEP, visit

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