More Than 330 Major Businesses Call on U.S. Congress to Build Back a More Resilient, Sustainable Economy From COVID-19

May 20, 2020 2:45 PM ET
Campaign: Policy

May 20, 2020 /3BL Media/ - On May 13, CEOs and representatives from more than 330 businesses, including Adobe, Capital One, CommonSpirit Health, DSM North America, Dow, Eileen Fisher, General Mills, Mars, Inc., Microsoft, NIKE, Salesforce and VISA called on a bipartisan group of federal lawmakers to build back a better economy by infusing resilient, long-term climate solutions into future economic recovery plans. Amid the backdrop of COVID-19 and the full recognition that the safety, health and well-being of all citizens is the most immediate priority, LEAD on Climate 2020 is the largest ever call to action from the business community to the U.S. Congress on the ongoing climate crisis.

The participating businesses include more than a dozen Fortune 500 firms as well as trade associations, medium and small businesses from all 50 states, collectively representing combined annual revenues of more than $1 trillion in revenue, a combined market valuation of nearly $11.5 trillion, and more than 3 million U.S. employees. The companies and investors calling for climate action as part of economic recovery efforts span across the American economy, including retailers, manufacturers, healthcare services, food and beverage companies, outdoors industries, technology companies and energy providers. The high level of participation is notable given the disruption most of the companies and investors are experiencing due to the economic collapse, as well as the current social distancing constraints on in-person advocacy.

Click here for a full list of participating businesses.

"The coronavirus pandemic has devastated communities and economies around the world. We all must do our part to solve the immediate threat posed by COVID-19, while also looking ahead to build a resilient, clean economy that is better able to withstand future shocks like the impending climate crisis,” said Hugh Welsh, President of DSM North America. “In recent months, DSM has stepped up our efforts to keep food on store shelves and medical equipment in hospitals. At the same time, we continue to work toward our goal to run on 100% renewable energy—and now we are calling on Congress to do the same and ensure climate action is part of the COVID-19 recovery."

“Today we have a health crisis, an economic crisis and a climate crisis all happening at once. The best solutions will tackle all three together. We have a distinct opportunity at this unique moment in history to define what we want our future to look like,” said Patrick Flynn, Vice President, Sustainability, Salesforce. “It will take bold action and so we need the business voice to be unified and clear. We at Salesforce are inspired to see so many companies calling for plans that build back better, focused on equitable, resilient solutions that put the U.S. on a 1.5 degree pathway.”

"As the U.S. embarks on the path to recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, responding to immediate health and economic needs of the country is critical. At the same time, we must keep up the momentum on our progress to tackle the long-term global risks posed by climate change,” said Cynthia Curtis, senior vice president of sustainability at JLL. “JLL is committed to doing our part by working toward our ambitious climate goals. We will not waiver from our commitment to shaping the future of real estate for a better world. However, we also need smart policies from Congress that pair economic recovery with meaningful climate solutions.”

“At Nestlé, our ambition to achieve zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 is at the heart of our strategy to build a resilient business,” said Meg Villarreal, Government Affairs Manager at Nestlé. “We are proud to stand with industry partners today to call for a climate-smart recovery plan to build back a more resilient economy.”

“Climate-positive technologies are uniquely positioned to help in the economic recovery as America looks to build back better with sustainable and resilient infrastructure,” said Hannon Armstrong Chairman & CEO Jeffrey Eckel. “We urge Congress to enact policies that leverage private sector investment and innovation, such as a carbon dividend. This is how we turn the tide on the  climate crisis and propel our country toward a thriving economy that is good for people and the planet.”

Building off last year’s LEAD on Carbon Pricing in-person event, where Ceres and its partners brought together 75 companies, this year’s virtual advocacy day features four times as many companies and investors and has greatly strengthened the call for strong and urgent climate action from Congress, beyond the call for a national price on carbon. Participating companies and investors will urge the U.S. House and Senate lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to support a climate-smart economic recovery from COVID-19 as they consider how future rounds of stimulus spending should be allocated. Collectively, they will demonstrate the continued importance of investment in resilient infrastructure and the need to put Americans back to work with durable, clean energy jobs. They will also urge Congress to consider longer-term sustainable solutions to strengthen the economy, such as a goal of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050, as well as other market-wide mechanisms, like a carbon price.

“Policymakers must ensure that the decisions that are being taken today to rebuild our economy also factor in the dire climate consequences that are not too far behind,” said Mindy Lubber, Ceres CEO and President. “They have the potential to reshape a new resilient economy in fundamental ways that prevent the next climate-fueled crisis. We, along with hundreds of companies and investors, are counting on them to LEAD on Climate and accelerate the just transition to a net-zero emissions future.” 

“As we help workers and families deal with the devastating effects of the covid19 crisis, we cannot lose sight of the urgent global climate emergency. Together, we can develop policies to invest in a smart economy that can withstand and overcome the public health challenges of the 21st century,” said Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL), Chair of the U.S. House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. “Through smart investments in infrastructure and clean energy, we can create and build on industries and pave the way for family-sustaining careers, all while keeping our families healthy and making our communities more resilient for decades to come.”

More than a hundred companies will have their Chief Executive Officers participate, including outerwear company Burton, food and beverage company Clif Bar, nutrition, health, and materials company DSM, Indigo Ag, building material company LaFarge Holcim, and New Belgium Brewery to signify their high level of concern for the health and financial risks that the impacts of our rapidly warming world are creating for communities, businesses and economies in America and around the globe. 

“Cement and ultimately, concrete, is a fundamental part of society, literally creating the foundation and structure of every city and community in the United States,” said Jamie Gentoso, CEO, U.S. Cement at LafargeHolcim. “As the leader in cement manufacturing in the U.S., LafargeHolcim actively seeks ways to decrease our carbon footprint. In participating with such a diverse, accomplished group of companies, I believe our combined experience, expertise and advocacy efforts will prompt Congress to take action on the climate crisis.”

“In the face of a global pandemic, America’s farmers have displayed tremendous resolve to ensure we remain fed and fueled—but grower profitability is at even greater risk due to the economic impact of the virus,” said David Perry, CEO of Indigo Ag. “By paying farmers for storing carbon in their soil we can create a new income stream for farmers during this challenging time, while leveraging one of the most scalable, affordable and immediate opportunities to address climate change: agriculture. Indigo is proud to stand by industry-leading companies to encourage Congress to build back better with climate positive stimulus funding, including incentives for agricultural carbon sequestration.”

“Tiffany & Co. has long been committed to operating in a manner that respects both people and the planet,” said Anisa Kamadoli Costa, Chief Sustainability Officer at Tiffany & Co. “Businesses must continue to lead in this way but cannot tackle climate change alone. We need smart public policies to advance our economy while protecting society’s most vulnerable citizens and facilitating a net-zero emissions future.”
“As investors in the clean energy transition, we have a duty to help create the millions of jobs that will be required to make our global economy more resilient and our planet sustainable for current and future generations,” said Henry McLoughlin, Director, Strategy, Capricorn Investment Group. “The catastrophic job losses of the past weeks, and the historic crash in the oil & gas markets, add an even greater sense of urgency to the creation of green economy jobs, from the solar and wind industries to electric vehicle and battery manufacturing.”
“The ski industry has been increasingly vocal about the need for climate action at the federal level. Now, the opportunity exists to rebuild our economy and future focused on renewable, clean energy,” said Kelly Pawlak, President/CEO, National Ski Areas Association. “Ski areas have paved the way for other small and rural businesses by installing and investing in wind and solar energy, and making broad-scale change to their operations to reduce their carbon emissions. This pandemic has given us a preview of the havoc climate change can wreak on our industry, and our way of life. It’s time to raise our collective voice and advocate for the policies that ensure a sustainable future.” 

“As a society, our vulnerability to systemic health and economic risks has never been more evident,” said Sarah Fackler, Sustainability and Climate Program Manager, Partners HealthCare. “As we transition to rebuilding the economy, businesses and government must work together to shape a more resilient and equitable future. Addressing climate risk has the potential to advance public health, health equity, and our economy.”

This increased corporate and investor policy engagement comes at a time when the consequences of the climate crisis have never been clearer or more dire. Last year, carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere were at their highest levels in at least the last 800,000 years, and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) recently found that the last decade was the hottest on record. As U.S. and global emissions have steadily grown over the years, so has corporate and investor ambition to reduce emissions—even amidst the current pandemic. In April, General Mills committed to source 100% renewable electricity by 2030 after joining the RE100 global corporate initiative, while both the clothing brand Eileen Fisher and the commercial real estate company JLL had their ambitious science-based targets approved by the Science Based Target initiative to limit their greenhouse gas emissions in line with the 1.5C ambition of the Paris Agreement.

Notes to the Editor

Rep. Kathy Castor, DSM’s Hugh Welsh, Mars’ Brad Figel, and Salesforce’s Patrick Flynn held a virtual media briefing ahead of LEAD on Climate 2020 on Tuesday, May 12. 

Listen to a full recording of the media briefing here.

LEAD on Climate 2020 is the largest mobilization of American and multinational companies and investors to call on U.S. congressional lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to take climate action as part of the economic recovery process. It has been organized by the sustainability nonprofit organization Ceres and other partner organizations. In 2019, LEAD on Carbon Pricing brought more than 75 businesses to Capitol Hill to call for a price on carbon. It was the largest business gathering to advocate for climate legislation in more than a decade.