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Starbucks, Unilever Push White House to Follow Through on Climate Action Plan

President Obama, feeling the heat | Image credit: Charles Dharapak/AP

One year after Superstorm Sandy devastated the East Coast, 20 major U.S. brands including Starbucks, Unilever and Mars, Inc. are calling for the White House to follow through on climate change preparedness efforts outlined in the Climate Action Plan announced by President Obama on June 25.

The corporate signatories of the letter cited the economic impacts of severe weather events on company operations and called for ongoing and significant investments to be made in strengthening climate change resiliency both in the United States and the world’s most vulnerable countries. Many of the signatories are members of Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy — a group of businesses advocating for meaningful energy and climate legislation.

Business depends on the stability of global supply chains for growth and profitability, which climate change can disrupt.

“Our businesses depend upon a resilient infrastructure, resilient communities, and resilient value chains,” the companies wrote. “In recent years, severe weather events, combined with rising temperatures, have devastated critical infrastructure, decreased crop yields, and threatened water supplies. These trends are being felt globally… We call upon your administration to follow through on commitments for robust support of climate change resilience efforts.”

Key components of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan included federal investments in climate science, and support for disaster planning and risk management in multiple sectors. On the anniversary of one of the most catastrophic weather events in history, the companies reiterated the need for federal funding of programs and projects that benefit the most vulnerable communities and the businesses they rely on for employment, products and services.

“Public investment in climate resilience is critical to the economic viability of companies we invest in that rely on consumers, labor, raw materials, and operations located in regions susceptible to extreme weather,” said Bennett Freeman, Senior Vice President for Sustainability Research and Policy at Calvert Investments.

The signatories recognized the Obama Administration’s efforts thus far to address climate change, and expressed support for public and private sector collaboration to continue advancing the implementation of the Climate Action Plan.

“The human and economic costs of severe weather are escalating and it is increasingly important that business and communities integrate climate risk into their operational and decision-making processes,” said Mark Way, Head of Sustainability Americas at Swiss Re America. “As experts on risk, everything we see points to the fact that climate change is something we simply cannot ignore.”

The Climate Declaration, which to date has been signed by more than 700 companies and thousands of individuals, is now up in lights in Times Square. The Declaration, part of an ongoing campaign organized by Ceres and BICEP, calls on federal policymakers to seize the economic opportunity of addressing climate change. The campaign caught the attention of CBS, which offered to air a 15-second ad on their Jumbotron in Times Square for 82 days, showcasing the Climate Declaration and its message that "tackling climate change is one of America's greatest economic opportunities (and it's simply the right thing to do)."

Last month, leading scientists from around the world said they are now 95 percent confident that human influence is the dominant cause of global warming, according to the Fifth Assessment Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). However, a recent Climate Policy Initiative (CPI) report said that global investment in climate change plateaued at $359 billion in 2012, around the same as the previous year. The International Energy Agency (IEA) says the world needs to invest at least $5 trillion by 2020 to limit the effects of global warming.


Mike Hower is Marketing Communications Manager at Carbon Lighthouse. With a background on both sides of the communications podium — as a journalist and strategic communicator — he is committed to helping organizations address climate change through sustainability innovation. Previously,… [Read more about Mike Hower]


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