On Monday, a spokesman from the White House announced that a further 68 companies had signed the “American Business Act on Climate Pledge”- adding to the 13 companies that originally signed. However, there are several big energy companies whose names can still not be found on the dotted line.
Many commentators have noted that Obama has upped his attempts to leave a lasting impact on climate change in the 15 months that he has left in office. The president has been praised by many environmental activists, and even Pope Francis, for his recent push to slash US carbon emissions, along with his involvement in leading a concerted global effort to move to a greener future.
The climate change pledge has been received with widespread enthusiasm by 81 of the largest companies in the US and among those to sign up were McDonald’s, Hewlett-Packard and Dell. It has been suggested by the Obama administration that the partaking companies represent around one-third of the biggest 50 companies in the states and collectively they employ over 9m people.
30% of Top 50 US Companies Sign Up
Speaking to the Financial Times, a senior White House official said:
“If you look at where these companies are headquartered, if you look at who their customers are and who their employees are, they represent America and they represent a broad cross section of America, including places where Republicans are representing them.”
There are many people who argue that Mr Obama’s actions represent a real risk to the US economy, and who believe that this move will damage the country’s ability to compete with other nations at an international level. Marco Rubio, the Florida senator, has recently claimed that climate action “will make it harder to create jobs in America”.
Climate Action “Destroying Economy”
He made the comment at a GOP debate, which was screened on CNN back in September. His view was roundly supported by the other candidates. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie stated:
“We shouldn’t be destroying our economy in order to chase some wild, left-wing idea that somehow, us, by ourselves, are going to fix the climate.”
However, it is hoped by those in the White House that the commitment shown by these big companies will go some way in refuting this argument. A spokesman for the administration said:
“One of the old and tired critiques . . . is that the only way to act is to do so by putting more businesses in your private sector at a competitive disadvantage. The commitment by these companies and their voice in supporting an ambitious international agreement really puts that argument to rest.”
“Winding Road” To Paris Summit
Despite the scepticism being expressed by some in the right wing of American politics, many see the signing of this pledge as significant because of its proximity to the upcoming climate summit in Paris. It is believed that Obama is hoping to secure a third round of signatures before the meeting in December, with a statement released stating that the government hoped that the participating companies can “bring their peers into this as well”.
However, the White House will have been dismayed by the fact that many large oil and gas companies have decided not to sign up to the pledge. ExxonMobil and Chevron were among the energy companies to boycott the move and have yet to release a statement explaining their reasons for doing so. This news comes just as the L.A. Times reported that two congressmen have requested that the U.S. Department of Justice investigate ExxonMobil “for allegedly failing to disclose information about climate change”.
A spokesman for ExxonMobil responded to the Times saying that the congressmen’s request were unfounded and “completely without merit”.