Nice to see that a major company, the electrical utility Exelon, is going to drop out of the Chamber of Commerce over the Chamber’s opposition to climate change legislation. Obviously, there’s a business angle in this for Exelon, but in general the irresponsibility of the American business class on this issue has been striking and any sign of a step in the right direction is welcome. There are, clearly, certain specific businesses that might be better off under a “do nothing” scenario about climate change but there’s no way to avoid the reality that corporate executives as a whole would, just like the rest of us, ultimately be worse off in a world of catastrophic climate change. And of course executives have children and grandchildren who (I like to think at least) they presumably love and care about.
It’s striking how German business doesn’t really seem to have this view. When we talked to the Federation of German Industry their angle on climate policy was basically that they wanted to shift things around to be as favorable to them as possible. But they appeared to be perfectly willing to accept “curb emissions to avoid climate catastrophe” as a controlling constraint on the policy options. This seems like common sense—even once you accept that constrain there are still a lot of hows and whys that you would expect business interests to fight over. But the idea that the masters of the economic universe are somehow going to just shrug off a huge increase in global temperatures doesn’t make sense.