Small Business Owners: Climate Action Will Protect Our Livelihoods

CREDIT: Bob Child/ AP

small business climate change impacts

CREDIT: American Sustainable Business Council

Small businesses are already seeing the impacts of climate change, and they’re ready to do something about it. A poll of small business owners released Wednesday from the American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC) found that 87 percent are worried that climate change impacts will harm their businesses, 64 percent support some kind of government regulation on carbon pollution, and 40 percent even say they’d accept a 10 percent increase in energy prices rather than suffer the consequences of climate change.

The poll of 555 owners of businesses with between two and ninety-nine employees also found that 57 percent are concerned about carbon pollution, and 57 percent also thought big carbon emitters should make the biggest reductions and bear most of the costs of cuts.

Business owners shared their stories of climate change impacts on a call organized by the ASBC Wednesday. Christine Hughes, the owner of Village Bakery & Cafe in Athens, Ohio, said they had already seen flour shortages due to drought in the west, a disrupted supply of maple syrup due to unusual winters, and extreme weather in Ohio like the 2012 derecho. “There’s no question that climate change endangers our business,” Hughes said.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, meanwhile, isn’t listening. The Chamber, which claims to “represent the interests of more than 3 million businesses,” attacked the EPA’s new rules on carbon emissions days before they even existed, prompting several large member companies to publicly distance themselves from the Chamber. And the ASBC’s poll indicates that small businesses like the carbon rule as well: half of the small business owners surveyed supported the new EPA regulations, and only 28 percent opposed them.

Sam Jewler, communications officer for Public Citizen’s U.S. ChamberWatch program, said it was a sign that the Chamber only represents “a few huge dinosaur corporations.” “Major utilities and Chamber members have already disavowed its position on the EPA proposal,” he said in an email, “and now small business owners are doing the same, because they recognize that there’s no stable economy without a stable climate.” Many of the Chamber’s key donors in recent years have been fossil fuel companies.