NEWSLETTER VOLUME 1 : ISSUE 1: DECEMBER 2016
Greetings, and welcome to the first issue of the Corporate Climate Alliance newsletter! Inside you'll find a roundup of the most notable efforts CCA has engaged in during our inaugural year. Learn about CCA President Mark Stenftenagel's impressions from his participation in the AREDAY conference last summer. Follow Director Stuart Williams as he makes the rounds of Capitol Hill and meets with Beltway insiders about advancing climate legislation. And get up to speed with CCA's recent lobbying efforts and initiatives, as we bring together an increasingly robust coalition of business executives and climate experts.
AREDAY - A JOURNAL FROM OUR PRESIDENT
BY MARK STENFTENAGEL, PRESIDENT
The AREDAY Conference, held at Aspen Snowmass in June, was an impressive gathering of a diverse group of people representing the full political spectrum: entrepreneurs, businesspeople, scientists, biologists, politicians, Native Americans, military brass, and clergymen. Jeff Phillips and I felt privileged to be there.
AREDAY was conceived by the American Renewable Energy Institute for the purpose of holding a “renewable energy expo,” yet the participants were all united in pursuit of a greater goal: solving climate change. It was the conference’s behind-the-scenes impetus—not the main topic of discussion—because the discourse centered on means more than ends. This group was the choir, and it did not need preaching to. It was a choir singing in search of solutions.
From the genteel president of Iceland, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, to the brilliant Amory Lovins, and the energetic and youthful Katie Hoffman of Etho Capital, these contributors shared a breadth of ideas and real-world solutions that are having an impact as we speak.
So the feeling after the first day was one of optimism, that we do have the technology and the wherewithal to make headway in turning down the carbon meter. However, the question remains: Is there enough collective will?
CCA President Mark Stenftenagel (middle) participating in an AREDAY panel discussion with moderator Keith Tuffley (The B Team, left) and Randy Hayes (Foundation Earth, right). June 21, 2016.
The next day I was on a panel with Keith Tuffley, CEO of The B Team, and Randy Hayes, Executive Director of Foundation Earth. The topic was “Corporate Social Responsibility: Mobilizing Business for Good.”
At one point, Keith asked me what we should expect of business, and I mentioned that I thought that the climate change problem was largely created by corporations, so they should take the lead in cleaning it up. Randy quickly retorted that this was not a good idea, because we can’t trust business to do the right thing. I conceded that historically speaking, he had a good point, but stressed that it’s going to take the resources of a lot of different actors to solve this problem.
Our discussion continued to be lively, and we ended it with an animation short produced by Interface that introduces the “Climate Takedown” initiative, by which the company plans to produce carpet tiles that will actually sequester CO2. Here is a prime example of a business committed to social responsibility.
As the day progressed, many intriguing propositions were discussed regarding financial approaches to mitigating climate change. The day’s closing presentation was by an extremely interesting group called Helena, which is a coalition of predominantly very young and successful entrepreneurs and thinkers dedicated to solving many of the world’s social problems through tele-collaboration and innovation. This is a group worth watching.
I believe Jeff and I came away from the conference feeling that CCA definitely has a role to play in the global endeavor of reining in hydrocarbons. Most importantly, we both felt that there is still an evident need for unity and advocacy that business is not providing. In awareness of this deficiency, our goal is to make CCA an organization that gives businesses the means for having a real stake in climate change mitigation, which is now more critical than ever.
Our thanks to Sally Ranney and Chip Comins for inviting us to this wonderful assembly of people who are working to make a difference—and succeeding.
RECENT LOBBYING EFFORTS
Illustration by Thom Brackett
STUART'S DAY ON THE HILL
BY STUART WILLIAMS, DIRECTOR & CO-FOUNDER
I visited Capitol Hill on November 16th, having lined up meetings with several congressmen's assistants and a renewable energy expert. The purpose of the meetings was for CCA to lend its support to the Master Limited Partnerships Parity Act, a bill proposed in June by Senator Christopher Coons (D-Delaware). The bill would essentially provide the same tax benefits for investment in renewable energy sources and innovations that are currently granted for investment in fossil fuels.
Our first meeting was with Senator Jerry Moran's (R-Kansas) Deputy Legislative Director, William Ruder. Though Senator Moran is a Republican, he is hugely supportive of the MLP bill because it promotes free market trade, and does not take from one industry to give to another. Some of the strong points of the bill according to the Senator are:
- Facilitating investment in renewable energy in Kansas, a state that already has huge investments in wind power, and where there has been talk of engaging in legislative efforts to have the state powered 100% by renewables within 30 years.
- Estimates of tax revenue losses if the bill were to pass figure at $1.3 billion, but potential tax revenue gains driven by new investment is calculated to be $200 billion.
- It promotes private sector growth, and would attract more international investment to the US.
William Ruder appeared impressed by CCA's initiatives. His request was for us to focus on promoting the bill to large institutional investors and the financial institutions that would structure and sell renewable energy MLPs to those investors. He asked us to stay in touch to discuss how we can work together.
Our next meeting was impromptu with Emily Lavery, who focuses on energy issues as a Legislative Correspondent to Senator Tim Scott (R-South Carolina). Emily was intrigued by what CCA is doing, saying that it seemed to fit a need in DC. Our lobbyist Geof Gradler, of Roberts, Raheb & Gradler, is acquainted with Senator Scott, and will set up a meeting with him in the near future.
Next on the agenda was lunch with Geof’s colleague Jonathan Paret (also of Roberts, Raheb & Gradler), who is the token Democrat on Geof’s team. Jonathan has been on The Hill since 1974, and knows quite a few people there. He is very impressed with what we are doing, and has assured us that he’s willing to help in any way he can to open doors for us.
Senator Christopher Coons. Courtesy of C-SPAN.org
Finally we met with Franz Wuerfmannsdobler, who is the Senior Policy Advisor to Senator Coons. Franz was very impressed with CCA and what we stand for. He echoed Will’s sentiments, and suggested that we be in touch with a lobbyist for Amazon.com regarding the company’s intention to derive 100% of its energy from renewables. Amazon has stated that it is supporting the bill; the company uses copious amounts of energy to power its server farms. Franz asked us to reach out to Republican senators on the Tax Committee, whom Geof and his firm have already done work with.
Of course our enthusiasm was tempered somewhat by the acknowledgment that with a Republican President, Senate, and House come January, a carbon price / carbon tax bill might be slow in being introduced and passed.
All in all, each person I met with was impressed with CCA’s focus, knowledge base, and contacts. Everyone was excited about the 1,000 Leader event planned for next year, and I’m confident that we will be asked to step forward to help find support in the private sector for this bill. I also discussed CCA’s involvement in the Low Country Alliance with each person I met, and how municipalities are at risk of losing large chunks of their tax base if businesses have to relocate as a result of rising sea levels.
I can say with confidence that the day was a major success. We can take away from it that CCA would be better off focusing on supporting the MLP bill for now, while reconsidering initiatives involving carbon tax or carbon pricing as longer-term goals. Everyone was in agreement that the bill does not have enough gravitas to stand alone, and as such it will come to the floor as part of a large tax reform bill which, given the recent election, is likely to happen sooner rather than later. We should circle the wagons to discuss our next steps, including connecting with investors and financial institutions, as well as corporate leaders such as Amazon, who wish to see the bill pass.
A motorist wades through a flooded street in Charleston, S.C., Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015. Image: Chuck Burton / Associated Press
CCA is helping the South Carolina Aquarium to develop its task force and resiliency initiatives for the effects of climate change on the Lowcountry region. Starting in Charleston, the initiative has now spread and covers an area from Myrtle Beach to Savannah, and will soon reach further south to Amelia Island, Florida. Within each participating city (so far Savannah, Charleston, and Myrtle Beach) the initiative is being supported by the mayor and the majority of first-responder units, relevant municipal government services, and community and business leaders. The potential reduction in tax revenues caused by businesses possibly having to relocate in response to rising sea levels is not lost on municipal leaders.
R.I.C.E. and The Cline Center
As part of CCA’s efforts to help the South Carolina Aquarium’s Climate Change Initiative, i.e. the "Resilience Initiative for Coastal Education” (R.I.C.E), we have been instrumental in introducing the leaders of R.I.C.E. to the big data specialists affiliated with the Cline Center for Democracy at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. On January 6th 2017, Scott Althaus from the Cline Center will travel to Charleston, South Carolina to meet with Mark, Stuart, Kevin Mills (CEO of the SC Aquarium) and Albert George (SC Aquarium Director of Conservation) to discuss using big data to predict the effects of climate change on businesses located in the Lowcountry.
1,000 Leaders Conference
CCA is part of a coalition of businesses and NGOs that includes Citizens Climate Lobby, Future 500, and Ceres to convene 1,000 international CEOs to Washington, DC next October. The aim of the conference is to put climate leaders and concerned executives directly in contact with House and Senate representatives to discuss the potential negative effects of climate change on business.
Master Limited Partnerships Parity Act
CCA is actively engaged in supporting the passage of Senator Christopher Coons’s (D-Delaware) proposed bill, the Master Limited Partnerships Parity Act, co-sponsored by Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kansas). The purpose of this bill is to provide the same tax benefits for investment in renewable energy sources and innovations that are currently granted to those investing in fossil fuels.
Embracing International Companies
While we have devoted much of initial efforts to local and domestic programs, CCA continues seek partnerships with international companies in acknowledgment of climate change's global impact. This approach is borne out by our strong relationship with CCA Founding Member Interface, the world's largest modular carpet manufacturer, and a sustainability leader.
This past month we have on-boarded the following Founding Members: DIRTT, Whitney Architects, Q Design, and GC Packaging, LLC. Interface has joined CCA as a Founding Member. Our sincere thanks to all of them for their support.
Our website and association management software, Wild Apricot, have been tested, launched, and are ready to receive members. We invite you to visit our website for an overview of our initiatives, staff and member bios, and recent climate-related news. All feedback is welcome. To join or access your profile, the membership directory, forums, etc., simply click on the "JOIN" or "MY CCA" links in the top right-hand corner of the site's pages.
In our first year of operations, CCA has managed to insert itself in a number of major initiatives, all of which are beginning to expose it to numerous companies, organizations, and public officials concerned about climate change. It is from these relationships that we believe we will gain the reputation and brand identity required to bring on board a significant number of corporate members. Many thanks to all of you who have shown steadfast confidence in our mission by supporting us in our initial efforts.