Campaign Gathers Steam to Urge Companies to Leave the U.S. Chamber
by: Deborah McNamara, Co-Executive Director of ClimateVoice
In early August, ClimateVoice, a nonprofit I co-lead with former Google and Facebook sustainability leader Bill Weihl, launched a hard-hitting campaign to rally the workforce at pro-climate companies to urge their companies to “leave” the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and “lead” on climate policy. The campaign comes at a moment when we need strong climate policy action and advocacy at all levels of society more than ever, and employees have a critical role to play. Escape the Chamber activates employees to urge companies to stop their support of the U.S. Chamber, which has a consistent record of obstructing climate policy, and to actively call for stronger climate policy engagement and leadership.
We’ve built momentum fast because the climate crisis is unfolding all around us, and we know we need to be working for systemic change at scale in order to meet the many climate-related challenges and targets before us. Our campaign launched with coverage in the Washington Post, and in less than two months, thousands of employees and other advocates have already signed our “Leave and Lead” petition.
As someone working in the environmental and climate movement for over 20 years, I have learned over time how important it is to call out the obstruction of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce when it comes to climate policy progress. As one of the most influential multi-sector trade associations in the world, they are among the largest political obstacles to climate action here in the United States. Lowlights of the Chamber’s consistent record of climate obstruction include organizing a network of lobbyists to dismantle President Obama’s proposed climate change regulations in 2014 and filing a lawsuit challenging the Clean Power Plan in 2015 (an Obama-era initiative that would have set carbon pollution limits on U.S. power plants). In 2017, one of the Chamber’s stated policy priorities for the year was to “oppose efforts to regulate greenhouse gas emissions through existing environmental statutes, including the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act.” Most recently, the U.S. Chamber lobbied against the historic $369 billion Inflation Reduction Act climate bill and opposed EPA methane standards.
Though the Chamber now claims to support climate action, the evidence doesn’t back that up. InfluenceMap released a briefing in February 2023 with some extremely disappointing findings. Whatever their PR may claim, the record shows otherwise – that the U.S. Chamber’s climate policy positions were most closely aligned with the MOST oppositional oil and gas companies. The report states that “across six major [U.S.] federal climate policies introduced in 2022, the Chamber’s positions were the same as those of the American Petroleum Institute (API), the country’s predominant fossil fuel industry group.”
Because he has seen first-hand the impact of the Chamber’s obstruction on Capitol Hill, climate champion Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) strongly backs the campaign: "I call on American companies to stop funding anti-climate activities by dropping membership in the Chamber and other anti-climate organizations, and by stepping up their own climate policy leadership before it’s too late to lead the planet to safety." We couldn’t agree more - and we believe that employees are the key to moving companies to “leave and lead.” To help get them up to speed on the facts, we produced a powerful explainer video (see below) by climate icon Bill McKibben, and we have just released a new ClimateVoice Employee Action Toolkit designed to help employees learn more about how to advocate for strong climate leadership and policy action at work, and take steps to spotlight their company’s misalignment with the Chamber and take a pro-climate stand.
As the climate crisis invades our daily lives, there is an opportunity for all of us, including employees, to heed the urgent call to act, and to press companies to use their power to call for the strongest possible climate action. The challenges we face require close attention to the many misalignments at play that counter climate action and needed systemic shifts. Membership within the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is one such example. Companies cannot be “pro-climate” and consider themselves climate champions while simultaneously allowing the Chamber to lobby on their behalf against climate policy progress. All pro-climate companies should leave, as well as advocate consistently and forcefully to counter its influence.
Our campaign gives employees who are watching the continued unsettling climate news a specific and immediate action they can take. Last year, during the battle for historic federal climate legislation, ClimateVoice engaged thousands of employees and advocates in a series of calls to action to move climate policy forward. We believe that addressing the Chamber’s obstruction is the next strategic step. People are ready to take urgent action, and advocating for strong climate policy progress and alignment is a key untapped lever. Wherever you work, and wherever you are on your climate journey, we hope you will join us in the next wave of advocating for positive change.
🍿 The Lean Back
Learn more about the Escape the Chamber from Bill McKibben.
🎙️ My Climate Journey Podcast
⚡️ Cody talked to Ari Matusiak, founder and CEO of Rewiring America, about the org’s story, core work, and the home electrification measures in the IRA. Ari provides perspective on the current status of US electrification progress and how each of us can contribute to advancing Rewiring America's mission. Listen to the episode here.
👩💻 Climate Jobs
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✨ Community Highlights
📚 On October 19, the Climate Interactive team is launching the newly-improved training program: the En-ROADS Climate Ambassador Camp. This program will teach critical lessons on global climate solutions and system dynamics using the En-ROADS Climate Solutions Simulator—an interactive online climate model co-developed with the MIT Sloan Sustainability Initiative. To apply and learn more visit Climate Interactive here.
🌎 The 2024 OpenAir Carbon Removal Challenge is launching soon! The Challenge is a worldwide challenge for students to create new processes, approaches and prototypes to remove excess carbon from the land, waters, or air. Finalists will have the opportunity to fly to New York to present during the opening night of the Carbon Unbound Summit, and a chance to engage with global leaders, startups, investors, and policymakers. Learn more here.
🗓 Climate Events
📚 MCJ AMA Anshuman Bapna - Terra.do: Up next on our Ask-Me-Anything channel, we’ll be joined by Anshuman Bapna, CEO and Co-founder of Terra.do. Get your questions ready or use our form to submit them in advance. (Oct 18)
👩💻 MCJ + Climate People Climate Career Advancement Meetup: Join us for an enlightening session with Drew Wilkinson, climate activist, community organizer, and co-founder of Microsoft’s 10,000 member sustainability community. (Oct 11)
🌁 MCJ Bay Area Happy Hour: Meet up with local MCJ members and others in the climate tech community. (Oct 12)
🌇 Urban Heat Islands Learning Session: We’ll be having a semi-structured roundtable discussion, with some prompt resources. (Oct 12)
♻️ MCJ Learning Sprint: Circular Economy. Designed to bring members together around one central topic every month, via 10-15 diverse resources curated by an expert. (Oct 13)
🚺 MCJ Women in Climate Meetup: Monthly meetup for women who work in, or want to work in, climate. We use a Lean Coffee format, where we co-create the agenda and get through topics that are most interesting to the group. (Oct 25)
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