Major Environmental Groups Call on Businesses to Lead on Climate Policy

WASHINGTON, October 15, 2019 – Eleven leading environmental and sustainable business organizations published an open letter in the New York Times today, urging the CEOs of Corporate America to step up their engagement on climate policy. Signatories include the heads of BSR, C2ES, CDP, Ceres, Conservation International, Environmental Defense Fund, The Climate Group, The Nature Conservancy, the Union of Concerned Scientists, World Resources Institute, and World Wildlife Fund.

In the letter, the organizations call on businesses to adopt a science-based climate policy agenda that is aligned with the recommendations of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and with the goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.

The letter highlights three essential actions for businesses to execute this agenda:

  1. Advocate for policies at the national, subnational and/or sectoral level that are consistent with achieving net-zero emissions by 2050;
  2. Align their trade associations’ climate policy advocacy to be consistent with the goal of net-zero emissions by 2050; and
  3. Allocate advocacy spending to advance climate policies, not obstruct them.

Additionally, the signatories call for “robust disclosure of the above actions to ensure transparency and demonstrate leadership, as well as strong corporate governance to enable sustained, strategic and effective engagement in climate policy.”

The recommended actions follow a statement from 200 institutional investors, with a combined $6.5 trillion in assets under management, who recently called on publicly traded corporations to align their climate lobbying with the goals of the Paris Agreement. They also build on momentum from the U.N. Global Climate Action Summit in September, when many companies announced ambitious commitments to reduce their emissions to net zero by 2050 and unprecedented global youth strikes demanded accountability from business leaders.

Further, the groups’ call for corporate leadership on climate policy is in line with the goals of upcoming Santiago Climate Change Conference (COP 25), which will focus on increasing ambitious actions to tackle climate change.

The following are statements from the nonprofit groups endorsing the recommendations:


“Business is already making strides in reducing emissions and strengthening resilience to climate impacts along their value chains. But to achieve the truly transformational changes needed to address the climate crisis, governments must also act with urgency. We need more companies to align their policy and advocacy agendas with their commitments to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. This ambition loop will enable further process with the urgency that’s needed. We look forward to working with our member companies to develop these agendas as part of their commitment to climate action.”

Aron Cramer, President and CEO, BSR


“Companies from every corner of our economy are reducing emissions, engaging their supply chains, improving efficiency, and adopting innovative sustainability practices to meet the challenges posed by climate change. They are a powerful and indispensable voice to build common ground for action, with the unique ability to bring policymakers to the table behind their shared interest in developing policies that address climate change and enable economic growth.”

Bob Perciasepe, President, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES)


“In forging the path towards a climate conscious future, businesses must lead by example—starting with robust disclosure and setting science-based targets for their operations and supply chains. But for the whole system to change at the needed pace and scale, policy makers need to step up as well. Advocating for science-based policy is a crucial way that leading companies can help shift the needle on government action.”

—Bruno Sarda, President, CDP North America


“Corporate leaders are vital and influential advocates for advancing strong climate and clean energy policy. Companies in the Ceres BICEP Network have been making the business case for policy action for the past decade because they understand the financial risks that the climate crisis poses to businesses, the economy and communities—and they know that inaction is not an option. Given the scope and scale of the crisis, we need all corporate leaders to demand comprehensive science-based policy to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.”

—Mindy Lubber, CEO and President, Ceres

Conservation International

“We will not be able to solve the climate catastrophe without decisive leadership from corporations. Yet our own peer-reviewed research found that the world’s largest companies are collectively underestimating and underreporting the financial implications of climate risks to their investors- sometimes by more than 100 times. Businesses must take bold steps to ensure that their actions and influence address this new reality of our planet.  It’s time to seize the opportunity to shape public policy that drives us to a net-zero carbon future as soon as possible for the sake of our economy and humanity.”   

—Dr. M. Sanjayan, CEO of Conservation International

Environmental Defense Fund

“There’s a new reality for CEOs today: employees, customers and investors alike expect business leaders to go beyond rhetoric and take meaningful action on climate change. In fact, more than 90% of executives surveyed for a new EDF study believe that consumers will increasingly hold businesses accountable for their environmental impact. CEOs need to reduce climate pollution within their own company operations, and they also need to unleash the most powerful tool they have to fight climate change: their political influence. Corporate voices matter to Congress, but the vast majority of businesses have been silent on the need for climate policy, or even opposed to it. Now is the time to reverse that trend.”

—Fred Krupp, President, Environmental Defense Fund

The Climate Group

“As we enter the 2020’s - a critical climate decade - we urge all businesses in the U.S. to lead the way in calling for robust science-based climate policies. Our work with over 300 of the world’s largest businesses in more than 140 markets show the power of collective corporate action in shifting markets and shaping policies to advance the transition to renewable energy, electric vehicles and increased energy productivity. But time is running out. The world desperately needs more action - and businesses can and must provide bold leadership to advance science-based climate policies to help secure a safe and prosperous future, for all.”

 —Amy Davidsen, Executive Director, North America, The Climate Group

Union of Concerned Scientists

“Scientists have made it clear we need to reach net-zero by midcentury to avoid devastating climate impacts—and we won’t get there unless we slash emissions quickly. Growing corporate climate commitments are a necessary start, but they are no substitute for moving the federal government to address this problem. Today we are setting a clear expectation that good corporate citizenship means strong advocacy for climate solutions.”

—Kenneth Kimmell, President, Union of Concerned Scientists

World Resources Institute

“Nearly seven hundred corporations have committed to setting aggressive, science-based emission reduction targets in line with the Paris Agreement. By choosing this route, rather than being forced into it, these companies are demonstrating a deep knowledge of modern economics, recognizing that this benefits their bottom line. A natural next step that true corporate leaders are already leaning into is to align their science-based sustainability ambitions with vocal policy advocacy. A climate-forward policy environment will not only enable these companies to meet their commitments but will also ensure that others follow-their lead.”

—Andrew Steer, President and CEO, World Resources Institute


“Corporate voluntary science-based commitments have spurred progress and innovation. But alone they’re not enough. We need strong national policy and regulations to protect business and their customers from the greatest risks of climate change. And we need the voice of business to insist that our government leaders deliver the policies we need. It’s time for business to make this a policy priority - not only for their own government relations teams but also for the trade organizations that represent their interests.”

—Carter Roberts, President and CEO, World Wildlife Fund, United States