This past Thursday, Business Roundtable hosted its sixth Climate RESOLVE Responsible Environmental Steps, Opportunities to Lead by Voluntary Efforts) workshop, attracting more than 75 executives from 56 companies to Washington. Why make a Fall trip to our nation's capital? To gain insight into the landscape of current climate change policy and to share best practices in corporate America's efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs).
Business Roundtable president, John J. Castellani kicked off the workshop by emphasizing the Roundtable's commitment to being an influential leader in the climate change discussion and highlighted our ground breaking climate change statement released in July.
The workshop was fortunate to have a key player on climate policy in attendance, the Honorable Rick Boucher (D-VA), Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality. Chairman Boucher addressed attendees beginning with his, admitted, initial skepticism around the specifics of climate change. Detailing how his views have evolved in recent years, Boucher then delved into the key parameters of climate change legislation, highlights included:
- The need for a bipartisan foundation;
- The importance of a cap-and-trade program;
- The goal to avoid economic dislocations in sectors of the economy;
- The necessity for international participation, primarily with China, India and Brazil; and
- The importance of maintaining the health of the U.S. economy.
The workshop continued to include congressional staffers discussing the status of climate legislation and comprehensive industry panel discussions on climate policy implications, accounting options, and innovations. Substantive, robust and informative, the day concluded with the sharing of stories, best practices and discussion around real practices in the reduction of GHGs.
All speakers relayed the acknowledgement that "climate change," "global warming" and "greenhouse gas emissions" carry a much greater force today than they did even just a few years ago. And rightly so - as the Honorable Timothy E. Wirth, President United Nations Foundation and Better World Fund stated at the beginning of the workshop, "the science debate is over."
The "debate" is one that has turned into a major assumption in which our businesses, policy makers and consumers must now all operate; one that has pushed our members and the business community to step up to the plate and take action to reduce GHGs.
While, the exact solution is to be determined and the challenges may outweigh current, immediate, cost-effective solutions, the commitment among policy makers, member businesses and workshop attendees for change maintained a strong pulse in the conversation; the importance of which cannot be discounted.