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Companies desert the climate deniosphere

Companies are leaving trade associations that deny human-induced global warming.

By Moises Velasquez-Manoff / September 28, 2009

More and more companies, such as Pacific Gas & Electric, are stepping away from membership in trade organizations that deny climate change.

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Increasingly, companies are leaving trade associations that have taken positions at odds with what science is telling us about human-induced global warming — that it's real and that we'd better address it sooner rather than later.

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Last week, Pacific Gas & Electric (possibly best known nationally as the villain in the movie Erin Brockovich") left the US Chamber of Commerce over "fundamental differences" on how to approach climate change caused by a build-up of greenhouse gases in earth's atmosphere.

Then New Mexico-based PNM Resources announced it would let its membership in the Chamber expire over similar concerns. And in a statement, Nike expressed its discontent with the Chamber's obfuscating approach to climate change.

In a letter [PDF], PG&E chairman and CEO Peter Darbee said:

We find it dismaying that the Chamber neglects the indisputable fact that a decisive majority of experts have said the data on global warming are compelling and point to a threat that cannot be ignored. In our opinion, an intellectually honest argument over the best policy response to the challenges of climate change is one thing; disingenuous attempts to diminish or distort the reality of these challenges are quite another.

An excerpt of PNM's statement in the Albuquerque Journal:

We strongly disagree with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's position on climate change legislation and particularly reject its recent theatrics calling for a 'Scopes Monkey Trial' to put the science of climate change on trial. We believe the science is compelling enough to act sooner rather than later, and we support comprehensive federal legislation to meaningfully reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect customers against unreasonable cost increases.

A Nike statement said:

Nike fundamentally disagrees with the US Chamber of Commerce's position on climate change and is concerned and deeply disappointed with the US Chamber's recently filed petition challenging the EPA's administrative authority and action on this critically important issue.
Nike believes that climate change is an urgent issue affecting the world today and that businesses and their representative associations need to take an active role to invest in sustainable business practices and innovative solutions to address the issue. It is not a time for debate but instead a time for action and we believe the Chamber's recent petition sets back important work currently being undertaken by EPA on this issue.

Today, Exelon, an electric utility company, announced that it would not renew its Chamber of Commerce membership when it expires because of the Chamber's opposition to climate legislation. In a speech at the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy's national conference today, Exelon CEO John Rowe said:

The carbon-based free lunch is over. But while we can’t fix our climate problems for free, the price signal sent through a cap-and-trade system will drive low-carbon investments in the most inexpensive and efficient way possible.... Putting a price on carbon is essential, because it will force us to do the cheapest things, like energy efficiency, first.”

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