The Clean Power Plan Is Bold Policy that Will Benefit the Economy

September 23, 2016
  • Edward Cameron

    Former Managing Director, BSR

On September 27, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments on the U.S. Clean Power Plan, one of the most significant pieces of environmental policy the United States has ever seen.

When the White House announced the plan in August 2015, it was heralded as the strongest action the United States has ever taken to combat climate change. The centerpiece of the U.S. national climate plan, by 2030, the Clean Power Plan will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 32 percent from 2005 levels, and it will cut carbon pollution from the power sector by 30 percent. The plan will also create jobs, save consumers US$155 billion from 2020 to 2030, and reduce health hazards by cutting pollutants that contribute to soot and smog.

Unfortunately, several states concerned about the erosion of the fossil-fuel-based economy have challenged the legality of this policy, and the U.S. Supreme Court placed a hold on the implementation of the plan in February 2016.

As the D.C. District Court weighs arguments, it is critical that judges hear the loud and clear message from the private sector: Global companies want this plan, it’s good for business, and it will deliver tremendous benefits to the economy, the planet, and communities.

In the past several years, many American companies have set ambitious energy efficiency and renewable energy targets that will help the world achieve the goals established in the Paris Agreement. These companies welcome the Clean Power Plan because it will guarantee a reliable, resilient source of clean energy; it will stabilize and reduce energy costs; it will help them meet corporate climate targets; and it will improve the health of employees and the communities where these companies are based.

The Clean Power Plan will help remove the barriers for companies to achieve these goals and reduce business risk. We can no longer afford a patchwork approach to clean energy. Current energy markets are complicated to navigate, and it’s expensive for companies to scale up clean energy purchases without regulatory certainty. It’s also not practical for companies to meet climate goals by self-generating clean energy—nor does this maximize the opportunity to advance clean energy at scale.

In the private sector, companies have been working with industry partners, NGOs, policymakers, utilities, and regulators to do their part to reduce their climate footprint. Some companies have partnered to centralize corporate demand for renewable power and help utilities meet that demand through initiatives such as the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance and BSR’s Future of Internet Power group.

Leaders across many different sectors have voiced their overwhelming support for the Clean Power Plan. When the policy was finalized last year, 365 companies and investors signed on to a letter encouraging governors across the country to finalize their implementation strategies. In light of the challenges to the Clean Power Plan, some of the biggest technology and consumer brands submitted friend-of-the-court briefs in support of the plan. Myriad leaders from business, government, civil society, and faith-based communities support the Clean Power Plan because they understand that climate change affects us all.

The opponents to the Clean Power Plan have been promoting a message of fear—that the plan will harm business and damage the economy. These fears come from factions that are clinging to an old economy and an old way of doing business. In contrast, the Clean Power Plan is a bold piece of policy that will usher in a new clean energy economy.

As the D.C. District Court listens to the oral arguments on September 27, we urge the judges to listen to the voice of business: This policy is good for business, it’s good for the environment, and it’s good for our communities. Business leaders are working together to build a thriving, clean American economy. The government must make good on its commitments and create a policy environment that will give business the chance to increase its ambition even more.

It’s time to move forward without fear and implement this plan.

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