Earth to Chamber of Commerce Members: Change or Leave

By Rainforest Action Network

The controversy surrounding the US Chamber of Commerce continues. The labor coalition Change to Win recently issued a report on how the Chamber has been hijacked by right wing ideologues, whose opposition to regulation of greenhouse gas pollution has included calling for the EPA to conduct a ‘Scopes Monkey Trial’ on climate change. In a letter to members sent today, Chamber COO called groups like RAN who believe that climate change is a real problem ‘environmental extremists’.

Meanwhile, more and more companies and business groups (Apple, Exelon, PG&E) are dropping their membership in the Chamber and public opposition to the Chambers’ climate change denial is growing. The latest opposition is coming from the high tech sector, where the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and Silicon Valley Joint Venture are running an ad campaign against the Chamber for its opposition. And the Chamber is on the run, having been forced to backpedal on its claims to be the voice of the business community; last week the Chamber claimed to ‘represent’ 3 million businesses, but this week it quietly reduced that number to ‘300,000’ members. Investors are calling for companies that they own shares in to drop their membership in the Chamber, and local Chambers are formally distancing themselves from the US Chamber’s opposition to action on climate change.

As well they should. The Chamber of Commerce is behind the times: most companies have caught up with modern public values on climate change. For nearly ten years, the Carbon Disclosure Project has been surveying the leading global companies for their responses on climate change. In the most recent report issued earlier this year, 82% of the world’s largest 500 companies responded to the questionaire on their carbon emissions, 68% are reporting and tracking their emissions, and 51% have disclosed emissions reduction targets, all to report to investors representing over $55 trillion in capital investments. These companies are implementing global action plans for a carbon-constrained world, but the US Chamber of Commerce representing many if not most of these companies is heading in the opposite direction.

Here’s a note to Corporate America: every single company that claims to be taking climate change seriously yet continues to support the climate-change denying Chamber of Commerce, companies like Cargill, Microsoft (MSFT), Toyota (TM), FedEx (FDX) and Ford (F) – it’s time to come clean.

The US Chamber of Commerce is a national embarrassment, and corporations that continue to support this institution are standing in the way of progress in stopping climate change. It’s time for Chamber members to change or leave.