The US Chamber of Commerce has shown how riled up it is over the exodus of major companies from its membership rolls. In a letter to Apple CEO Steve Jobs over the company’s recent departure, the Chamber’s CEO, Thomas Donohue, explains the Chamber’s position on climate change. Unfortunately it merely highlights why Apple, Exelon, PG&E and Nike all oppose the Chamber on this point. Donohue complains that Apple “didn’t take the time to understand” the Chamber’s position on climate change. Apparently the Chamber’s call for a “Scopes monkey trial of the 21st century” last month on climate change actually belies their “support [for] legislation to address climate change.” According to Brad Johnson on Think Progress, the Chamber has questioned climate science since at least 1992:
2008: Chamber President Tom Donohue Says ‘Scientific Inquiry’ Into Climate Change ‘Should Continue’ Because Of ‘Cooling Trend.’ [U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 3/4/08] 2001: Chamber Claims Climate Change ‘About One Percent From Human Activity,’ Says ‘Things Just Change.’ [CNNFN, 7/16/01] 1992: Chamber Sponsors Climate Change Denier Pat Michaels To ‘Refute The Climate Change Warnings.’ [Chicago Sun-Times, 5/13/92]
The letter argues that any climate solution must defend the US economy and business competitiveness and that they “oppose legislation such as the Waxman-Markey bill that numerous studies show will cause Americans to lose their jobs.” Although, most reports have shown that the Waxman-Markey bill will increase jobs—as much as by 1.9 million jobs, according to a new analysis by economists at University of California, Berkeley. Here’s the full letter, as included in the blog of ABC’s Ned Potter:
Dear Mr. Jobs: I am sorry to learn of Apple’s resignation from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. It is unfortunate that your company didn’t take the time to understand the Chamber’s position on climate and forfeited the opportunity to advance a 21st century approach to climate change. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce continues to support strong federal legislation and a binding international agreement to reduce carbon emissions and address climate change. Furthermore, we believe that Congress should set climate change policy through legislation, rather than having the EPA apply existing environmental statutes that were not created to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. This is also the stated position of the President and Congressional leaders. Your letter states that “Apple is committed to the environment and the communities in which we operate around the world.” So is the Chamber but we are also committed to preserving the competitiveness and prosperity of the communities and businesses in our nation. While we do support legislation to address climate change, we oppose legislation such as the Waxman-Markey bill that numerous studies show will cause Americans to lose their jobs and shift greenhouse gas emissions overseas, negating potential climate benefits. An effective climate change response must include all major CO2 emitting economies, promote new technologies, emphasize efficiency, ensure affordable energy for families and businesses, and defend American jobs while returning our economy to prosperity. The American business community that we proudly represent is the single largest investor and innovator in clean energy solutions and remains committed to a strong economy and clean environment. We continue to remind the public and policymakers that it has been the private sector that has developed the innovations that we now take for granted, from the personal computer to the medicines that keep us healthy. The Chamber believes that the business community will continue to be the catalyst for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and we support efforts to tackle climate change in a way that will strengthen our economy, protect American jobs, and benefit our environment. Climate change is a global problem that requires a global solution. The Chamber supports an international agreement that will set realistic and achievable goals, ensure global participation, protect intellectual property rights and remove trade barriers to environmental goods and services. I would have hoped that Apple would have supported our efforts to improve environmental stewardship and keep Americans at work and our economy competitive. As the world’s largest business federation representing more than 3 million businesses and organizations of every size, sector, and region, the Chamber is leading the way to support the innovation needed to transition to a lower carbon future, including the elimination of barriers to the deployment of clean energy technologies. Supporting innovation and technology is at the very heart of our efforts to combat climate change, and we will continue to fight for an approach that embraces their merits. It is a shame that Apple will not be part of our efforts.