One of America’s largest grassroots climate organizations is readying a national campaign against the lobbying efforts of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber, described by 350.org founder Bill McKibben as the “power plant” of “money pollution” in Washington, DC, has led lobbying efforts to block action on climate change for decades.
Because of its pro-pollution, anti-science stance, the Chamber is threatening American prosperity — its supposed mission. Several companies, including Apple, Exelon, and Pacific Gas & Energy, have quit the lobbying group over its climate denial. In the Tom Dispatch, McKibben explains how 350.org plans to expose the split between real American businesses and the multinational polluters that fund the “U.S.” Chamber of Commerce, with the simple message, “The U.S. Chamber Doesn’t Speak For Me“:
Still, the rest of us can stand up and be counted. We can tell the Congressional representatives taking their money that they don’t speak for us. We can urge more big companies to act like Apple and Microsoft, which publicly denounced the chamber. (It’s good to hear Levi Strauss, General Electric, and Best Buy making similar noises.) We need to hear from more dissenting chambers of commerce. It cheered me to find that the CEO of the Greater New York Chamber said, “They don’t represent me,” or to discover that just a few weeks ago the Seattle chamber cut its ties.
But it’s even more important to hear from small businesspeople, the very contingent the U.S. Chamber of Commerce draws on for its credibility. Across America in the coming months, volunteers from the climate change organization I helped to found, 350.org, will be fanning out to canvass local businesses — all those bakeries and beauty salons, colleges and chiropractors, pharmacies and fitness centers that belong to local chambers of commerce.
The volunteers will be asking for signatures on a statement announcing that “the U.S. Chamber doesn’t speak for me,” and offering businesspeople the chance to post videos expressing just how differently they do think when it comes to global warming, energy, and the environment. It’s a chance to emphasize that American business should be about nimbleness, creativity, and adaptation — that it’s prepared to cope with changing circumstances, instead of using political cash to ensure that yesterday’s technologies remain on artificial life support.
“With my colleagues at 350.org, I’ll do what I can to help undermine the chamber’s claim to represent American business,” McKibben writes. “I don’t know if we can win this fight against money pollution, but we’re going to do what we can to clear the air.”