Hire More Heroes Act of 2015—Continuedby Senator Benjamin L. Cardin
Posted on 2015-07-29
CARDIN. Mr. President, man made climate change has evolved from a
critical threat to an unavoidable reality. The reality of climate
change has already shown its grim effects on our environment and our
Today, I would like to speak about the impacts of climate change on this country's economic engine: our businesses. As temperatures and sea levels rise and as weather patterns become more severe, the costs of doing business go up. Droughts and heat waves drive up energy costs and have put incredible pressure on global food production. On a warming planet, floods and other natural disasters damage infrastructure and private property, driving up insurance premiums and increasing the cost of doing business.
All of this creates uncertainty for investors, who increasingly want to know how climate change will affect the companies in which they invest. American companies are beginning to notice. General Mills' Chief Sustainability Officer Jerry Lynch said, ``The best available science tells us all the changes we are making to the planet as a human species are what's causing this.'' Last year, General Mills announced its commitment to increasing sustainability and reducing greenhouse gas emissions in its supply chains.
Even oil companies realize what is happening: ExxonMobil's William Colton, Vice President of Corporate Strategic Planning, said, ``The risk of climate change is clear and the risk warrants action.'' ExxonMobil officials subsequently announced the company would put $600 million into algae farms that would turn sunlight into automotive fuel. Its new focus shows that corporations across all economic sectors are realizing something vital: the negative effects of climate change hurt their bottom line.
This week, some of America's largest companies such as Apple, Coca- Cola, General Motors, Goldman Sachs, Google, PepsiCo, and Walmart are standing with the Obama Administration to launch the ``American Business Act on Climate Pledge''. By signing this pledge, companies demonstrate an ongoing commitment to having a climate action plan. The ongoing shift in official corporate climate policies from a burgeoning number of other large and small businesses demonstrates that taking action on climate makes strong economic sense. If these bastions of capitalism can develop and commit to climate action plans, why has not the Republican Party devised its own action plan? Denial simply will not cut it.
The involvement of American businesses in climate policy is a welcome development but they must move even further by disclosing the risks they face from climate change to investors. These risks, which are passed on to shareholders, hit nearly every industry imaginable, from obvious choices like the oil and gas sector, to healthcare and financial services and transportation and hospitality. Disclosing climate risk through the Securities & Exchange Commission's, SEC, corporate reporting measures enhances transparency and allows investors to make smarter decisions, ultimately protecting and increasing shareholder value.
As we continue to deplete our scarce natural resources and send their harmful byproducts back into our air, water and land, the cumulative impacts are changing the world. The rate of this change is accelerating; the status quo is untenable. By providing honest climate risk disclosure and establishing climate action policies to mitigate and reduce that risk, American companies are acting in everyone's best financial interests.
Profit-driven corporate superpowers like Apple, Coca-Cola, and Walmart are taking concrete steps to reduce the impact of climate change. The message they are sending is clear: adapt, or fall behind. Other companies now have the opportunity to join in what American businesses do best: innovating and leading the rest of the world by their example. It is increasingly obvious that taking action to combat climate change is economically prudent. But more important, it is also the morally correct thing to do. I encourage more in the business community to take a stand on the right side of human history.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The majority whip.