Twenty-nine corporations, including five major oil companies, are starting to account for coming carbon limits in their business plans, according to a new report by CDP. These companies recognize the era of unlimited pollution will soon end, and it’s time to rein in their share of global warming emissions.
Right now, companies are free to release as much carbon as they want. This fuels climate change and contributes to the deadly storms, costly droughts, and destructive floods like the ones that have swept through our communities.
We all pay a steep price for unchecked climate change—even if our families haven’t lost a home to a storm surge yet or gone out of business after a prolonged drought. It touches us no matter where we live. The government spent nearly $100 billion to respond to extreme weather events in 2012. That’s more than $1,100 per average US taxpayer.
We can help protect our communities by limiting how much carbon pollution companies release. America has already set limits for arsenic, lead, and mercury, and other pollutants that endanger our health and well-being. Now we must do the same for carbon.
According to the new CDP report, more and more companies know that time has come, and many have already demonstrated what’s possible by reducing their own carbon pollution. Microsoft, for instance, has committed to becoming carbon neutral across all its data centers, labs, offices, and travel. Even fossil fuel giants like ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, Chevron, BP, and Shell told CDP researchers they are planning for a carbon-constrained world, because the nation will soon take firm climate action.
President Obama has already begun. In June he released a robust Climate Action Plan and directed the Environmental Protection Agency to establish carbon limits for new and existing power plants. His plan will also target other potent global warming pollutants, including methane from oil and gas production and HFCs. And last year, the president raised fuel economy standards to 54.5 miles per gallon, which will cut carbon pollution from new cars in half and save consumers $1.7 trillion at the pump by 2025.
The clean car standards have unleashed a wave of innovation in the auto sector, contributed to Detroit’s recovery, and helped spur the boom in car sales. The power plants standards will likewise inspire advances in clean energy technologies. They will also level the playing field and allow all sources of energy to compete for low-carbon markets.
The CDP report confirms that many of our smartest and biggest companies are already planning for the low-carbon future. We can usher that future in today by setting strong limits on carbon. We can hold polluters accountable and leave our children with cleaner air and a more stable climate.