CEF Spotlight

Congress is Missing the Business Case for Climate Action: Here’s How Your Company Can Help

By Cynthia Curtis, Senior Vice President for Sustainability at JLL

Leaders in the Corporate Eco Forum understand and appreciate the need for government action on climate. While our goals and initiatives are vital, we know that in isolation they’re not as powerful. It’s why we partner – with our supply chain, our clients, NGOs, even (on occasion) our competitors. The issue is we’re missing the partner who could provide the greatest change accelerant: Congress.

We need members of Congress to act, and we need to help them get there. Direct lobbying on climate change can be hard. But simple conversations with elected officials can be easy. What am I getting at?

At long last Congress is waking up to the climate crisis. Between the four carbon pricing bills filed last year to the energy brought forward by the Green New Deal, the Sunrise Movement, the freshman democrats and more, the global warming discussion is back on Capitol Hill. And it is about time, all about time. Twelve years to be exact.

So, what can leading companies do at this pivotal moment? Tell our stories. Educate lawmakers. Communicate the business reasons for taking action. We all have them. At JLL, for example, it’s about ensuring we have the tools to help our clients achieve their goals, that includes choice of energy source, cleaner transportation options and resiliency investments.

Too few legislators have heard the perspectives of companies with strong climate track records. Too few understand the business logic behind so many Fortune 500 companies taking aggressive climate action. Meanwhile, debates around the once bipartisan issue of climate change remain mired in partisan gridlock.

Your company’s participation in an unprecedented event next month in Washington, DC could help turn that around.

On May 21, a bipartisan Lawmaker Education and Advocacy Day (LEAD) on carbon pricing will take place.

JLL is participating with 50+ other companies – and I urge my peers leading sustainability efforts at large companies to consider joining us.

Bipartisan and non-prescriptive in orientation, the event has been organized by 15 well-respected NGOs including Ceres, WWF, and We Mean Business. No complex formulas, no dogma or prescriptive mandates. All the legwork is done; the meetings organized.

Your role? Simply to help senators and congressmen and women understand why climate change matters to your business, which will help them gain appreciation for the economic case for action and costs of delay.

Participating companies may hold very different views on what good policies should look like. Some, understandably, want to steer clear entirely of any lobbying. However, participants are aligned around the following three simple ideas:

  • Climate change is a risk to our economy.
  • Businesses are taking action to reduce emissions but can’t tackle the problem without a strong congressional partnership.
  • A policy response equal to the severity of the challenge is required — and that should include a meaningful price on carbon.

Forty-five of the world’s leading economists have agreed that an effective carbon price is the best possible mechanism to bring down emissions at the speed and scale necessary to keep temperature at or below 1.5⁰C.  While the design will vary, it is important that Congress understands that businesses are looking for market-based, durable solutions and that pricing carbon needs to be part of the solution.

Our NGO colleagues have made LEAD a low-risk, high-value proposition for leading companies to participate in. As of this writing, more than 50 major companies have confirmed they will take part. Participants will receive a full briefing and Hill training on May 21, enjoy a reception with lawmakers that evening and spend the next day with peers on the Hill having conversations with legislators and staff.

I’ve done this kind of thing before and I can tell you it’s not hard. It’s quite fulfilling. And it makes an impact.

For questions or to sign up, contact Anne Kelly at kelly@ceres.org or Ryan Martel at martel@ceres.org.

Hope to partner and LEAD with you in DC!

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