The protesters at the People's Climate March were a diverse bunch. As The Guardian reports, alongside the usual deep green crowd were executives from major corporations, including Ikea, Unilever and energy giant NRG.
This is exciting.
As I argued when Microsoft quit ALEC, and when Unilever quit BusinessEurope, authentic corporate environmental responsibility must include speaking out for political action on climate change and clean energy. Now we can add another important voice to the mix.
Because, as revealed in a Diane Rehm interview with Eric Schmidt, Google just quit ALEC. And Schmidt came right out and accused the lobbying group of lying about climate change in the process.
In some ways this is no surprise. From massive investments in renewable energy capacity to supporting innovative new products like Nest thermostats, it was already fairly clear which way Google sees the future of energy going. So, as reported over at The Guardian recently, activists have been frustrated about the fact that Google was still bankrolling climate skeptic groups.
Eric Schmidt's announcement that Google was breaking ties with ALEC will be welcome news indeed for anyone who cares about a livable climate. Schmidt left no room for doubt in his interview about why this break up is happening. Here's a transcript of Schmidt's comments, as reported by the National Journal:
"Well, the company has a very strong view that we should make decisions in politics based on facts—what a shock," Schmidt said. "And the facts of climate change are not in question anymore. Everyone understands climate change is occurring, and the people who oppose it are really hurting our children and our grandchildren and making the world a much worse place. And so we should not be aligned with such people—they're just, they're just literally lying."
Given the stakes at play, if they really want to make the case that big business can be part of the solution, corporate leaders can no longer afford to stand on the sidelines when it comes to climate politics. And Schmidt's comments are a welcome demonstration of how to do that. When the Rockefellers start divesting from fossil fuels, it's time for everyone who cares about a clean energy future to stand up and make their voice heard.
Walking the walk is not enough. You have to talk too.