Major Corporations and Trillion Dollar Investors Join Obama’s Climate Change Battle

* The following is an opinion column by R Muse *

It is likely that despite Republican claims to the contrary, many Americans experiencing the devastating effects of anthropogenic climate change believe it is real, a clear and present danger, and want the government to take action to address it. Sadly, or fortunately depending on one’s perspective, addressing climate change has been relegated to President Barack Obama in what seems like a one-man battle against an army of Republicans, the fossil fuel industry, the Koch brothers and their mighty libertarian belief-tank activists.

If Americans had not elected Barack Obama in 2008, there would have been no action on the climate or environmental protections over the past seven-and-a-half years. Fortunately, the President’s activism on climate change has produced results at home and abroad, and none were more important than America’s involvement in the Paris Climate Agreement that Republicans are still opposing like it is deadly plague. Now there is incredibly good news that President Obama is no longer waging a one-man-battle against Republicans and the Kochs’ seemingly never-ending supply of money.

As the Paris Agreement is put into action after its official signing by 150 nations late last week, news is emerging that there is a veritable army of extremely wealthy American investors, companies, and major corporations calling for immediate support for the Paris accord and a shift away from burning fossil fuels. In fact, according to the head of policy at We Mean Business, a group of investors and companies sitting on trillions of dollars, Edward Cameron said “For the first time, we’re seeing a genuinely changed landscape for the private sector. What we see now is growing momentum out of Paris urging a shift away from burning fossil fuels.”

This is a very encouraging sign because the business and financial community has never had any kind of presence at, and little interest in, any of the previous five U.N. climate conferences; they have had even less interest in addressing global climate change. According to Mindy Lubber, president of the sustainable investment advocacy group Ceres said,

On a day when the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) declared the first three months of 2016 had been the hottest such months on record, the Paris Agreement is ‘extraordinary’ in its scope and vision. The fact that we are signing this particular deal should be marked as the world’s greatest start.”

To punctuate their devotion to combatting climate change and to finally give President Obama the help he needs, literally hundreds of American companies have voiced their support for the Paris deal.  And incredibly, there is a nearly unbelievable number of “blue-chip firms spending millions on energy costs whose predecessors opposed climate regulations are now backing President Obama’s carbon-cutting efforts.” And, when they say support, they mean that “an impressive number of huge corporations have pledged to protect the U.S. EPA’s keystone climate regulation against all challenges in the courts.”

For example, just this month “Google joined Inc., Apple Inc. and the Microsoft Corporation in filing a legal brief in support of President Obama’s EPA Clean Power Plan.”  Any American concerned about the devastation of climate change who has been demoralized that President Obama has had to wage a one-man battle against the Kochs, Republicans, and the fossil fuel industry should agree with the senior policy counsel for energy and sustainability at Google, Michael Terrell, who said,

What’s exciting to us is seeing how many major American companies getting in the game. I think we’ve seen more momentum than we have ever before of the businesses backing climate regulation; we have a strong commitment from the private sector;” and President Obama has an army behind him to combat the Kochs and Republicans.

Besides corporate giants Google, Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft, well over 100 major corporations including well-known firms like Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc., Hewlett Packard Inc., Johnson & Johnson, L’Oreal SA’s American division and Inc. issued their own letter late last week endorsing the Paris climate deal and President Obama’s EPA Clean Power Plan. The corporate giants all agree that both creating and urgently enforcing the President’s clean air regulation were critical for U.S. negotiators to secure international support during the Paris talks. As ‘Ceres’ Lubber noted, “They are all speaking in the same voice. These 110 companies all want low-carbon power and stable clean energy supplies.”

The news just gets better for war on climate change. Last week in a separate “statement of support,” over 400 institutional investors managing more than $24 Trillion in assets “strongly urged governments to join in supporting expansion of low-to-no carbon fuel sources, establish meaningful carbon prices, and immediately craft plans to completely eliminate all fossil fuel subsidies.” Eliminating fuel subsidies has been a point of contention in America for over a decade and it has only been contentious because Republicans will never consider not giving the oil industry taxpayers’ hard earned dollars.

The 400-plus investors wrote,

The Paris Agreement is an historic breakthrough that delivered an unequivocal signal for investors. The accord provides the right framework to trigger substantial investment and thus keep the door open to a well-below 2 degrees pathway.” The 2 degrees reference is to what climate scientist say is undoubtedly “the largest temperature increase possible without inciting catastrophic climate change.”

Of course, one might say that all the trillions of assets, monumentally giant corporations, and 100’s of lesser ‘giant corporations’ do not include any from the energy industry, but that would be misinformed. There were fossil fuel and energy corporations operating in America such as Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway Energy, Calpine Corp., PG&E Corp., Rio Tinto PLC, Royal Dutch Shell PLC and Siemens AG among many others who joined the war on climate change and strongly urged politicians to move swiftly to robustly enforce the Paris Climate Agreement.

Now, just because major corporations, multi-trillion dollar investors, and yes, even energy companies are demanding enforcement of the Paris Agreement and President Obama’s Clear Power Plan, it doesn’t mean Republicans or their Koch funding machine will join climate change battle. In fact if the past is any indication they will dig in their heels and ramp up the fight to protect dirty energy. However, for the first time in nearly eight years they will not be waging war against the one man, President Obama, who has single-handedly been the voice of sanity in the battle to avert catastrophic climate change.

h/t ClimateWire