Does Apple really understand climate change? Not according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. This week, Apple became the latest in a series of major corporations to quit the Chamber, citing differences over attitudes toward climate change. Catherine Novelli, Apple’s Vice President for Worldwide Government Affairs, said that the company “would prefer that the chamber take a more progressive stance on this critical issue.” On Wednesday, the Chamber fired back.
In a letter to Apple, Chamber CEO Thomas Donohue wrote: “It is unfortunate that your company didn’t take the time to understand the chamber’s position on climate and forfeited the opportunity to advance a 21st century approach to climate change.” Donohue continued that U.S. efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions locally would cause job loss and have no impact on global carbon emissions, which would simply be shifted overseas.
The Chamber has been criticized repeatedly over the past few weeks, and other major corporations, including PG&E, have resigned from it or, in the case of Nike, from its Board. In a blog post yesterday, influential climate expert Joe Romm stated that the Chamber’s leadership is actually ignoring its own Board of Directors on matters pertaining to climate change.
Frustration with this approach is felt not only among corporations, but also among local chambers. Locally, the San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce joined General Electric and Johnson & Johnson in breaking openly with the U.S. Chamber, stating that its views do not represent their own. It was the first local chamber to do so. Pat Dando, CEO of the Chamber, stated last Friday that “there isn’t anyone who doesn’t realize that climate change is a man-made phenomenon and something we need to address and address quickly.”
Could the San Jose Chamber be the next to quit? A decision should be made by the year’s end, at about the same time that the United Nations holds its Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen (December 7-18). Until then, Dando is facing increasing pressure to take a more proactive stance. An editorial in the Mercury News this week called the current U.S. Chamber a “dinosaur,” and challenged local companies—and the local Chamber—to “make their voices heard in Washington— whether through the national chamber or despite it.” We will see which companies choose to follow Apple’s lead over the next two months.
Read More at the Business Journal.