Major U.S. businesses urge congressional action on climate

How can businesses influence Washington's energy and environment policy debate? During today's E&ETV Event Coverage of a Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy (BICEP) coalition event, companies including Starbucks, Timberland and L'Oréal call on policymakers to move forward with climate and clean energy policy. Representatives from each company explain how clean energy and efficiency practices have provided economic opportunities for their companies.


Lance Pierce: Good morning. My name is Lance Pierce. I'm the executive director of Ceres, and on behalf of Ceres, BICEP, and the signatories of the Climate Declaration, I want to thank all of you for joining us here this morning. We're very excited to launch this statement from the business community on a vitally important issue, climate change.

So BICEP has prepared the Climate Declaration to highlight the challenges and more importantly the opportunities associated with climate change, and today, you're going to hear from four business leaders who are poised to speak to those opportunities. We'll hear from Jim Hanna, who's the director of environmental impact at Starbucks Corporation. We'll hear from Betsy Blaisdell, who is the senior manager of environmental stewardship at Timberland. From Pam Alabaster, who is the senior vice president of corporate communications, sustainable development and public affairs, at L'Oréal. And we'll hear from Cynthia Curtis, who is the vice president and chief sustainability officer at CA Technologies.

So the core of the declaration is a single statement, tackling climate change is one of America's greatest economic opportunities of the 21st century, and that statement is built on a foundation of years of achievements by the businesses that you see here today. Some of these businesses have weathered extreme losses from events like Hurricane Sandy, but they're undeterred, and they're tackling the challenge of climate change and improving their businesses in the process. And they have a number of inspiring stories to tell about that.

Timberland is one example that cut a significant part of its carbon footprint by more than 35 percent in 5 years. Intel, another example, is designing lower energy chips to cut downstream energy use, and position themselves to gain market share in mobile devices. And others have committed to buying significant amounts of renewable energy, contributing to a much greener grid.

So in other words, the policies that we need to combat climate change are already the best practices in corporate America. The same policies that can move the needle on the climate crisis, putting a stop to harmful emissions, investing in clean energy, and improving efficiency, while some of those policies may be debated in Congress, they are already taken as hallmarks of good management in boardrooms across America.

Ceres knows this, because we actually ran the numbers. Late last year we did a survey of Fortune 100 and Global 100 companies, and we found that 60 percent of those firms, some of the largest companies in the world, have set either a greenhouse gas reduction goal or a commitment to use green energy or both.

So today, we're here in Washington, D.C., because we feel that these commitments deserve legislators' attention. Policymakers wrestle with a lot of complex issues, but if anything is going to be done on this important issue, we believe that the businesses who are represented today and other businesses need to be at the table to help develop the solutions that are going to be required. So that's why we're calling not only for policymakers to heed this call to action, but also for other businesses to join it over the course of an ongoing campaign.

BICEP, a project of Ceres, stands for Businesses for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy, and as the Climate Declaration points out, innovative policies are sorely needed, and they're going to help our nation capture the economic opportunities of responding to climate change. And as you're going to hear today, the business case for doing this couldn't be clearer.

So with that, I'm going to turn it over to Jim Hanna, who will talk to us a little bit about the ways in which Starbucks is starting to address the climate challenge. Jim, thank you.

Jim Hanna: I'm trying something new here, putting my notes on an iPad, so if shuts off, then bear with me, right? It's always a risk. It's like putting video in a presentation. You never want to do that. But, so I'm being a bit nostalgic today because four years ago, we sat in this very room eating the same breakfast and really talking about climate change, and talking about this launch of this coalition called BICEP, which we were looking for an alternative voice to talk about the importance of climate change to the business community. We were looking for a voice in the business community to say that this is something we want to focus on as a business community, and not provide a counter voice to any other group out there, but really help the folks within Congress and the decision makers and the policymakers understand that companies like ours needed to tackle climate change head on, and that policy was an essential part of that, our ability, creating our ability to tackle climate change head on.

So back then, it was interesting. I think you all, I'll take you back to 2009. We were all focusing on hockey stick graphs. We were all focusing on parts per million, and debating what a safe parts per million level was. We were focusing on island nations sinking into the sea. We were focusing on polar bears and things like that. But we were also focusing on the fact, and making a statement that good climate policy was good for business.

And if we look at what's changed in four years, what's really changed is, well, we had a massive recession. We switched the conversation to jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs. Everything became about jobs. But we also started, we also continued to state that good climate policy was good for business. Oh, and by the way, it would create good jobs. So we added that onto it as well.

What else has happened? Well, we just had the hottest 12 months on record here in the US, if you recall that. We just had Superstorm Sandy, which L'Oréal is going to talk a bit about, which really knocked the socks out of the Northeastern part of this, knocked the socks off the Northeastern part of this country. We also, excuse me. My iPad just went dark. We also are, if you look out here today, it's going to be pushing 90 degrees here in Washington, DC, whereas back in Denver, what, they got 2 feet of snow and they're shutting down the airport. Those are signs. Those are indicators that we all need to be serious about and understand what the implications are of those to the business community.

You know, and Lance, and I'm not going to talk a whole lot about Starbucks. I'm going to talk about business, and I tried to do this four years ago, and this has really become part of my lexicon at Starbucks, and really what I've been trying to evangelize is talking about the business drivers for climate policy, talking about the business drivers for tackling internally why companies should be focusing on climate. Not necessarily altruism, not necessarily being green, but as a businessperson, what are the drivers for us?

In my world, what we have is this thing called the coffee rust fungus. If you're familiar with that, it's already starting to impact crops in some of the key coffee-growing regions in Central America, and we're seeing decreases up to 25 to 50 percent this year of yields for coffee. That means business, you know, and that's important to our business. And whether or not that's directly tied to climate change or whether or not that's a ancillary impact from climate change, it still means business drivers for Starbucks.

So when we talk about the business case for tackling climate change, we're looking up and down our supply chain of this thing called the Arabica coffee bean, which is essential to the survival of companies like ours for our very existence. And when we look at anecdotally and trajectory of what's happening with climate change now, we see risk, and that's why we tackle climate change as a company. Yes, it's part of our DNA. It's part of our heart and soul. But we look at it from a business driver perspective as well, and focus on what are the business drivers for why we at Starbucks and why we as a business community need to be tackling climate change.

I think it's an exciting time for us right now. We have a second term President, and if you look historically at second term Presidents, regardless of party, it's been a very beneficial time for the environment, when we have a second term President. If you look at President Nixon, the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, all those things that he passed in his second term, which was a short second term, but, and then if you look at ...


Jim Hanna: ... President Bush, you know, and all the, and you know, even President Bush, who however you define him, in his second term, he really looked at putting some big marine sanctuaries in place in the Pacific Ocean, going against his, the advice of his party, and really going against the advice of a lot of folks who weren't necessarily on, within the environmental community.

So the list goes on and on. Even President Clinton, you know, who, it's debatable whether or not he was a huge friend of the environment. What we saw during his second term was the declaration of Grand Staircase-Escalante, other huge monuments that he dedicated during that second term, to really preserve the important pieces of the U.S. and really preserve the environment in the United States.

So we have that opportunity now with President Obama in his second term, and it's great to see him talking about climate change. It's great to see that back on that agenda right now.

What also hasn't changed really are the absolute business drivers for every company out there to enhance their profitability by tackling their own climate footprint. I'll talk a bit about Starbucks. We announced several years ago that every store we build in the world was going to be LEED certified and use 25 percent less energy, use 25 percent less water, use locally sourced materials for the stores. That has a huge impact on our climate footprint, but it makes absolute business sense for the company to do that.

Reduced operating costs, those are the things, those are those no-brainers we talk about when we're focusing on climate change. But for a $14 billion company with 17,000 stores around the world, if we can reduce our operating costs significantly, that makes a huge impact on our bottom line.

We also didn't wait around for our retrofits, and we completely retrofitted our entire portfolio with LED lighting, saved seven percent energy load right off the top. This is that low-hanging fruit that everyone should be picking right now, and everyone should be focusing on.

And what also hasn't changed in four years really is the need for strong federal policy that Lance mentioned, and that would give every business, we need the opportunity to operate effectively. What we need is a long-term consistent set of regulations. What we need are predictable cost structures that will allow us to accurately forecast our financial models with greater certainty and a level playing field that enables all of us to innovate within our spheres, and develop the business strategies to reduce our own impacts, but also be very competitive in this field.

Those are not climate drivers. Those are business drivers. When we talk about what businesses need, they need consistency, they need level playing field. From a policy perspective, they need good guidelines and they need good guardrails to move forward. That's what we're looking for from climate policy, and that's what Starbucks is looking for, and the other businesses are looking for.

Finally, for me, you know, what I think we're focusing on right now is whether talking about fiscal cliffs or immigration reform or climate policy, businesses are the driver of innovation within this country, and what we're seeing now is that driver unfortunately is stuck in park, and what we need are the opportunities for businesses to step on the gas again, be able to innovative and move this country forward. I think that effective climate policy is going to be one of those drivers that really helps us step on the gas again. It's not everything, but it's a massive part of our ability or inability to move forward. So we can either continue to innovate, or we can continue to stagger and wait for the next superstorm to come kick the legs out from under business, and move forward. It's really up to us, and I think it's up to folks on Capitol Hill.

So let's have a great day on Capitol Hill. I'm excited about meeting with our members and moving forward, and also excited about hearing from my colleagues next. So Betsy?

Betsy Blaisdell: Good morning. So I come from Timberland, which is a New Hampshire-based manufacturer and retailer of boots, apparel, and gear that's all designed to get consumers outdoors. We're about $1.5 billion company, and we employ around 1,000 people in the US. So we are absolutely tiny next to a great giant like Starbucks, but that's actually one of the things I love about BICEP, is that you can have a boot maker next to a large coffee retailer, next to a technology company and an incredible supplier like L'Oréal, all talking about the business benefits of addressing climate.

And so we are a relatively small company in size, but we are part of a great industry, an outdoor industry that contributes $646 billion in consumer spending and 6.1 million in direct jobs in this country. We're also part of an industry that when the outdoors is threatened, we pay the price.

So in 2008, Timberland became a founding member of BICEP because we knew that tackling our own sustainability challenges was not enough. We were joined by four other companies. Starbucks was one, as was Nike, Levi Strauss, and Sun Microsystems. And today, it's just a great honor to be on a declaration with the Outdoor Industry Association and 32 other leading companies who are really standing up for what is the right thing to do.

Reducing emissions, increasing the energy efficiency of our operations, and looking closely at our lengthy supply chain and its use of energy is a vital part of Timberland's future as a business. It definitely helps us keep competitive, but at the end of the day, it really does little to ensure the health of the places where our consumers love to recreate. So in other words, it's not helping us at all with our long-term competitiveness.

Until we work for systematic changes in the law, rules that impact all companies, really until we come together to build bipartisan solutions, we're never going to transition to a clean energy economy at the speed and scale that's really necessary to address climate change.

So we're here. We're committed to work with these other incredible companies who are here today, and the ones that are behind us who have signed the declaration, along with members of Congress who are really ready to roll up their sleeves and put politics aside and get to work. Thank you.

Pam Alabaster: Good morning. I'm Pam Alabaster from L'Oréal. We're the world's largest beauty company, and we're not a member of BICEP, but a friend of mine, Wood Turner from Stonyfield, called me up and said, "Hey, there's an initiative going on that I think you should be aware of."

We're pleased to be a signatory to the Climate Declaration and to join other leading companies in support of climate change policy. For a long time, L'Oréal has recognized the business risks associated with not mitigating and managing carbon. In 2009, we actually announced what we felt was a rather audacious goal to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions 50 percent on the 10 year period between 2005 and 2015 on an absolute basis. And I'm pleased to say today, at the end of 2012 we've achieved 38 percent reduction in that time period. That's globally. In the U.S., we're closer to the 50 percent target. We're about 48 percent. So we will achieve that goal certainly on a global scale, but probably exceed it on a U.S. basis.

We also know that strategies around clean energy are really important, and today, with the use of solar, wind, geothermal, biomethanization, we have about 22 percent of our energy come from renewable sources.

Importantly, we know that multi-stakeholder approaches are what's going to be needed here to solve these big issues. And we want to engage and do engage in a pretty competitive way with other companies, but also with NGOs, and I think our demonstration in being here today is that we feel like government has to come to the party. We have to work together.

Having experienced firsthand the effects of Superstorm Sandy, we had five manufacturing facilities and research and innovation facilities that were shut down for five days, we understand directly what the impacts of climate change can be. We also know that resilient strategies have to be developed, because we're not going to get there quickly enough to avoid some of these extreme weather events that we know and we can predict are coming.

Our hope in signing the declaration is really to demonstrate that business supports climate change policy, and we hope to have a great day today, and hopefully influence some of those who aren't online. Thank you.

Cynthia Curtis: What a great day, huh? What a great day. And I am so pleased to be here today on behalf of CA Technologies, to be a signatory to this very important Climate Declaration.

CA Technologies is a $5 billion global software solutions provider. We're a dot-com. We're not a dotorg. And we're signing this declaration today because the business opportunities associated with moving to a clean economy, clean energy economy, have been vacant, pretty much, in the dialogue, and we want to change that. Collectively, we have real challenges. We've been talk, you know, Sandy, extreme weather, water, et cetera.

And we see meeting those challenges as part of our responsibility as a corporate citizen, but we also see it as smart business. It's smart for our topline, for our bottom line. It enhances our brand and it deepens our relationships with our customers and our partners.

Information technology is an enabler of sustainability, of helping manage, measure, drive resource optimization. Our experience and the experience of our colleagues in the industry proves it. Through utilizing our own software, we've reduced our carbon footprint by 25 percent from 2006, and we're helping our customers optimize their resources internally, and minimize their negative impacts over time.

You know, for business, innovation and the speed of innovation is absolutely critical, and no more important than IT. I mean, it is, that's what IT is about. If you don't innovate, you're dead in the water. Good, sound policy that provides parameters acts as an accelerant to innovation. It helps create markets. And that's where government needs to play a role. Our hope is to lend our voice and our relevant experience to that dialogue and to help shape meaningful policy that can accelerate the growth to a clean energy economy. Looking forward to a great day on the Hill. Thank you.

Anne Kelly: Good morning. I'm Anne Kelly at Ceres, and I direct BICEP, and I am so inspired at this moment for what we've been able to put together today. Special thanks to Jim and Betsy and Pam and Cynthia for their remarks. Special thanks to all the companies who signed the declaration and are able to be with us today and work the Hill. And a special thanks to all the companies who signed the declaration and are tuning in virtually today, and our, we feel your support in a very big way.

We have a clear message for Congress, and that is, and to the administration as well, that very clearly at the end of this long, dark tunnel of negotiations and bipartisan collaboration, there is a light. There's not only a light at the end of that tunnel, but there are people along the way, businesses along the way, holding up lanterns to guide the path, each lantern powered by a CFL.

There are business examples here of telling us how to do it. Clearly, the leading indicator is the business practices that you've heard about today, and the business practices of all those who courageously stood up and said, "This is simply the right thing to do," for all the reasons that you've heard today. This is the right thing to do. This is the time.

Our goal is to get climate change back into the conversation, not in a prescriptive way, but to simply start talking about solutions again.

[End of Audio]



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