The closely watched ballot initiative to repeal AB32, California’s landmark global-warming emissions law, has seen the emergence of what may be, at least on the surface, an unlikely new coalition between corporations and advocates of emissions-control laws.
As Adam Werbach writes in Why Big Business Is Defending California’s Climate Regulations in the Atlantic, “an increasing number of the largest companies in the world are becoming active advocates for climate change legislation.” While there may be a number of reasons for this, Werbach says, the primary one is obvious: “The companies gathering together to defend the law are doing so for the same reason that corporations have banded together before. There’s money to be made.”
This echoes some of the points made by Bjorn Lomborg, director of the Copenhagen Consensus, a think tank, and author of “Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist’s Guide to Global Warming” has made previously in the Wall Street Journal. “Some business leaders are cozying up with politicians and scientists to demand swift, drastic action on global warming,” Lomborg writes. “This is a new twist on a very old practice: companies using public policy to line their own pockets.”
Lomborg points out that this cozy corporate-climate relationship was pioneered by the likes of Enron, which bought up renewable energy companies and credit-trading outfits while boasting of its relationship with green interest groups. When the Kyoto Protocol was signed, an internal memo was sent within Enron that stated, “If implemented, [the Kyoto Protocol] will do more to promote Enron’s business than almost any other regulatory business.”
“The partnership among self-interested businesses, grandstanding politicians and alarmist campaigners truly is an unholy alliance,” Lomborg says. “The climate-industrial complex does not promote discussion on how to overcome this challenge in a way that will be best for everybody. We should not be surprised or impressed that those who stand to make a profit are among the loudest calling for politicians to act. Spending a fortune on global carbon regulations will benefit a few, but dearly cost everybody else.”
COOL IT, the documentary featuring Bjorn Lomborg, opens in theaters beginning November 12.
For more information about Bjorn Lombog and the Copenhagen Consensus, a think-tank based in Denmark that tells governments and philanthropists about the best ways to spend aid and development money, visit: Copenhagen Consensus and FixTheClimate.com.