As Climate Impacts Mount, Investors Appeal to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to Advocate for Public Policy to Reduce GHG Emissions
NEW YORK, NY, THURSDAY, JULY 28TH, 2022 – Today, a group of investors representing U.S. $131B in assets under management announced they sent a letter to the Directors of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (U.S. Chamber) calling on them to advocate for the public policies needed to bring greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) emissions in line with Paris goals.
The investor signatories are members and partners of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) who, for several years, have been requesting that their portfolio companies lobby responsibly on climate by bringing their concerns to individual companies through engagement, letters, and in some cases, shareholder resolutions on climate lobbying. These investors are now bringing their concerns directly to prominent trade associations, including the U.S. Chamber, due to their significant role in climate policy engagement.
The investors say strong support from the U.S. Chamber and the business community is critical to help stabilize our climate, reduce the local and regional impacts from severe weather, and facilitate the just transition to a more sustainable and resilient energy economy. At question is the disconnect between the U.S. Chamber’s public acknowledgment of the need for bi-partisan climate change policy, and its lobbying activities that are often seen as at odds with that goal.
While the investors recognize efforts like the Global Resource and Sustainability Task Force and the membership’s informal Climate Solutions Working Group, they say neither effort has led to the articulation of a workable bipartisan climate policy pathway that secures workforce investment and deals with climate impacts.
According to the letter: “For over two decades, public reporting and internal documents made public show that the Chamber has played a central role in both regional and national lobbying campaigns to thwart legislative efforts to address surging GHG emissions. The Chamber has also sought to downplay the impacts of climate change, most of which can be attributed to fossil fuel use.”
Said Frank Sherman, Executive Director of Seventh Generation Interfaith Coalition for Responsible Investment, "The Chamber has publicly acknowledged the risk to business and the economy that climate change represents. However, it has far too often opposed legislative and regulatory actions seeking to curb GHG emissions, mainly citing cost as the reason. Voicing opposition without offering alternatives will not get us the solutions we need to counter the climate crisis.”
The investors also note that many of the companies represented by the U.S. Chamber’s board have made commendable climate commitments, yet those commitments are being undercut by the U.S. Chamber’s anti-climate lobbying activities. To reconcile this conflict, the investors are also calling for the Chamber to disclose “how its positions on climate policy are determined and to what extent its board and members are consulted on its policy views before the Chamber takes a public position.”
“Investors see climate change as a systemic risk to the health of our portfolios and, more broadly, a risk to the stability of the economy,” said Lauren Compere of Boston Common Asset Management. “With this letter, we are trying to understand how many modern businesses—both large and small—are being represented by the Chamber on issues like climate policy. We believe the Chamber would benefit its reputation, its membership, and its internal governance by being transparent about its policy objectives, positions and spending, and how those positions are representative of the membership as a whole.”
About the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR)
Celebrating its 51st year, ICCR is the pioneer coalition of shareholder advocates who view the management of their investments as a catalyst for social change. Its 300-member organizations comprise faith communities, socially responsible asset managers, unions, pensions, NGOs, and other socially responsible investors with combined assets of over $4 trillion. ICCR members engage hundreds of corporations annually to foster greater corporate accountability. Visit our website www.iccr.org and follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.