Broad support for the US climate change commitment-Update

This post was co-written by Han Chen from NRDC.

Yesterday, the White House submitted its formal proposal to cut U.S. emissions by 26-28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. In an earlier post I discussed the implications this commitment would have in terms of catalyzing action by other nations, especially large emitters like China and India. And I discussed how it is achievable. But you might have heard that some Republican leaders don't support the U.S. international efforts. But that position is in stark contrast with the position of leading businesses, entrepreneurs, Latino leaders, faith-based organizations, and Members of the U.S. Congress.

These groups reflect the reality that communities across the U.S. will benefit from the policies that reduce carbon pollution while reducing the costs of climate risk and boosting investments in clean energy. So, it should come as no surprise that several leading organizations have already issued strong statements of support for the new U.S. target.

Business Leaders

More than 140 business leaders voiced support for U.S. commitment to further reduce carbon pollution. The letter was organized by Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2) a national, nonpartisan group of business leaders, investors and others who promote smart environmental policies that drive economic growth. Their members, active in nearly every state in the country, have built or financed more than 1,700 companies, created more than 570,000 jobs, and manage more than $100 billion in venture and private equity capital. As the letter to President Obama states:

The commitment to further cut U.S. emissions by 2025 will send an even stronger market signal than existing policies can do alone. It will build upon these current efforts and help drive even more innovation, job creation, and pollution reduction. We have seen first-hand the ability of robust U.S. policies to spur clean energy deployment. Although clean energy is still an emerging energy sector, representing only 6 percent of generation, it is a strong economic growth sector. Including all clean energy sectors, the U.S. has an estimated 3.4 million clean jobs as of 2013 - a number which is steadily growing. In the last two years E2 has tracked nearly 700 clean energy and clean transportation project announcements that could create more than 233,000 jobs when completed. Well-designed additional measures will capitalize on these existing investments in clean energy and support new investments that create more opportunities to unleash America's clean energy economy.

The innovations we develop domestically will also help American entrepreneurs export to the expanding international market for clean energy - a multi-trillion dollar opportunity. U.S. manufacturers can be the leading global suppliers of cleaner cars, cleaner fuels, cleaner power, and technologies that improve industrial, power plant and building efficiency.

Similarly, Ceres, which directs the Investor Network on Climate Risk which has collective assets totaling more than $13 trillion, commended the US target:

The U.S. target also sends a clear signal to the global investor community that the U.S. is committed to building a low carbon economy. It will stimulate business innovation and ingenuity and the necessary flow of capital from dirty fossil fuels to cleaner technologies. Continued leadership on the part of the U.S. is crucial to a strong international agreement to tackle climate change. Ceres looks forward to working with the Administration and with business leaders from across the country on strategies and policies that will help the U.S. to meet and exceed today's stated target.

The Business Council for Sustainable Energy made a strong case for how a Paris agreement can incentivize low carbon investment and innovation:

The Council's low-carbon technology solutions will be best supported through a Paris agreement that includes a commitment to helping developing countries create the necessary enabling environments, and strengthens the absorptive capacity that will incentivize innovation and establish sustainable markets for doing business. A strong intellectual property regime will ensure that both technology avenues - existing and next-generation - are available.

The Council believes that an ambitious international agreement will drive low-carbon investment and innovation, as articulated in our position paper "A Framework for a 2015 Climate Change Agreement and Accelerated Clean Energy Deployment," and that there are real and actionable steps that can be taken to deliver significant emissions reductions in the energy sector globally.

Several leaders in the private sector have also issued strong support for the new emissions reduction target, including Bloomberg LP, Cisco, HP, and Sprint.

Labor Organizations

The BlueGreen Alliance, a partnership that unites America's largest labor unions and environmental organizations, has issued a strong statement of support for the US commitment on climate:

President Obama continues to lead on climate change. This U.S. pledge helps lay the foundation for what we hope is a strong and fair international agreement later this year in Paris. We need this agreement to begin to significantly reduce global emissions and to help keep America's economy and the manufacturing sector on a level playing field.

There is much more we need to do. Congressional leadership must cast aside the anti-science, anti-worker sentiments, and begin to take action to complement the president's actions with necessary investments in our workers and communities. We look forward to working together with Congress and the Obama administration to advance this important pledge.

Latino Leaders

Forty Latino leaders from across the nation stressed strong support for the U.S. climate target. These leaders represent the health, business, academic, financial, entertainment, and leadership development and civic engagement sectors. The letter of support to the White House applaud the U.S. response for its important at home, and also for communities around the world:

Our communities are on the front-lines of climate change, ranging from the damages caused by droughts in the American West to the disproportionate health risks from fossil fuel pollution our communities face. This realization is evidenced in our strong support for U.S. action on climate change. A recent poll by Stanford University showed that 95 percent of U.S. Latinos want the U.S. government to address climate change.

We know that U.S. leadership is crucial to delivering the type of global response required to protect communities everywhere, including our extended families in Latin America that are already suffering from extreme weather events.

Faith-Based Organizations

Two leading faith-based organizations also came out in support of the U.S. Target reminding leaders about the moral imperative for climate action. The Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns - a leading Catholic organization - came out in support of the U.S. target. The Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns is the popular name of the Catholic Foreign Mission Society of America (priests and brothers), and the Maryknoll Sisters of St. Dominic. As they said:

"While we applaud yesterday's announcement of the INDCs, we recognize that we must do even more to meet the United States' moral obligation to communities most vulnerable to climate change. These actions include passing and implementing policies that further reduce our nation's collective contributions to climate change; and leveraging additional funds for climate adaptation and recovery from climate-related disasters. This is essential for building climate resilience for our neighbors who live in poverty around the world."

The Religious Action Center of the Union for Reform Judaism has nearly 900 congregations across North America encompasing 1.5 million Reform Jews. As Religious Action Center said:

"The INDC plan is a demonstration of U.S. leadership in curbing the detrimental effects of climate change. As Jews, we believe that we have a duty to act as environmental stewards and to ensure that our children inherit an inhabitable earth. Reducing U.S. emissions is critical to a strong international climate treaty this December in Paris and to fulfilling our obligation to protect the earth."

Leading Members of Congress

Thirty-five Senators and 83 House members issued a strong letter of support to the White House on the day of the announcement. The applauded the Climate Action Plan, the joint announcement of ambitious targets with China, and the commitment to the Green Climate Fund. As the letter states:

There is a clear message for the Administration, but also for Congress, state legislatures, businesses, and the international community. We support the US commitment to reducing emissions 26-28% by 2025. Americans representing a broad cross-section of our economy and communities have recognized the dangers of climate change and the disproportionate impacts on vulnerable groups. Americans are also keenly aware of the market opportunities and economic benefits of addressing climate change. Our efforts to develop clean energy and green growth will generate more jobs and more innovations, and this will ultimately benefit the American worker and American families.

When you hear from opponents of climate action that this target is unacceptable then remember the broad support from these leading businesses, entrepreneurs, Latino leaders, faith-based organizations, and Members of the U.S. Congress.


This post was updated with statements from faith-based organizations.