Despite the talk from climate hysterics about greedy corporations opposing efforts to combat global warming, the facts tend to speak for themselves.
International corporate giants have been on board the climate-change bandwagon for more than a decade. Their reasons have nothing to do with science and everything to do with reading the writing on the wall. If the world is going to go off half-cocked and suck the life out of the industrialized economies combating climate change, big business wants to be in a position to influence what happens to them.
It’s no different than hiring another lobbyist in Washington or Brussels. Whatever expense there is in supporting the climate hysterics will be more than offset by savings in guiding the debate in ways that keep them operating.
So the question is, will corporations use their influence on President Trump to urge him to accept the Paris climate accord?
The smart money is saying yes.
To varying degrees, most major companies producing coal, natural gas and oil either explicitly back sticking with the 2015 climate deal struck in Paris, or they’re opting not to lobby against it, a dramatic shift from just a few years ago. They’re not necessarily cheering global efforts to address the issue, but the decision not to oppose it has the same effect as tacit backing.
The reasons corporate America is uniting on global climate policy are many and often depend on the products made and how global a company’s operations are:
Consumer-facing companies like Starbucks and Pepsi, have long prioritized policies to cut carbon emissions because they don’t sell products that directly contribute to the problem. They also have more direct interaction with consumers who like to buy from green-minded corporations.
Companies that generate electricity have said, for much of the past decade, that they’re moving away from coal toward cleaner burning sources of power, including natural gas and renewables. The Edison Electric Institute, the trade association representing investor-owned utilities, held a reception last year honoring the Paris climate deal after its conclusion, even though it officially doesn’t have a position on the deal.
Companies with huge global footprints, like General Electric and ExxonMobil, know that pulling out of one diplomatic deal can only weaken the U.S. standing on other geopolitical issues, which could hurt their operations around the world.
Publicly traded fossil-fuel companies are facing growing calls from their investors to address climate change, or at least to not fight such policies. This is a newer trend that’s gained influence over the past couple of years.
Major oil companies, like ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell, have increasingly invested in natural gas, which emits 50% less carbon than coal when burned. Companies with big natural gas portfolios will gain with climate policies that accelerate a shift already underway to replace coal with natural gas. ExxonMobil, which bought big natural-gas producer XTO Energy in 2010, sent a letter to the White House in March urging Trump to stay in the deal. That letter followed a tweet by the company’s top lobbyist just hours after Trump won the election expressing support for the accord.
“When we hang the capitalists they will sell us the rope we use,” Joseph Stalin reportedly said. The corporate mindset is entirely predictable, based as it is on the simple concept of maximizing profits given the realities in which they exist. Any claim to morality or “good citizenship” is true only as long as it serves that overriding goal.
So yes, it’s a great PR move to play along with climate-change hysterics, all the while working as hard as they can to keep the devil from their door. The devil in this case is the desire of many internationalists to force companies to cede control to some world body that knows best how to divvy up resources like fossil fuels.
Given the choice, corporations prefer to cooperate (to a certain point) in order to avoid the worst.
I suspect that Trump would prefer not to be demonized by the world press and might listen to the importuning of corporations not to make the U.S. into an international villain by blowing up the Paris accords.
It wouldn’t be the first time that Trump reneged on a campaign promise or pulled a 180-degree shift on a position. Still, it would disappoint many of his supporters who think climate change is a “hoax” and the carbon emission schemes advanced by the Obama administration are worse than useless.