10 Ways the U.S Chamber of Commerce Opposes Measures to Tackle Climate Change

BHP are expected to announce their decision on whether to cut ties with the World Coal Association and the U.S Chamber of Commerce (USCC) by March 31 2018. They also have the Minerals Council of Australia under review until 31 December 2018. A decision by BHP to continue membership of the USCC will fly in the face of the company’s interests and those of its shareholders.

The USCC is the world’s largest business organization and says it represents more than three million businesses. It is a major lobbyist, spending around $104 million on government lobbying in 2016 — more than any other US industry body or corporation by a significant margin.

It has a long history of opposing measures to tackle climate change, advocates for using more fossil fuels, and supports other dangerous moves like lifting restrictions on tobacco use. Let’s take a look at 10 examples:

1. The USCC has close links to the fossil fuel industry and the National Resources Defence Council has labelled it as an “unabashed apologist…for America’s biggest climate polluters”. Its board of directors includes senior executives from coal, oil and gas companies that include Peabody, Shell, BP & ConocoPhillips. It has received funding from oil and gas companies like Chevron and coal companies like Peabody. Exxon Mobil pledged $5 million to the USCC between 2014 and 2018 for “public information and policy research”.

2. The UCCC misrepresents basic climate science: wrongly claiming the climate is not warming as much as scientists predicted, and wrongly saying that climate change isn’t only caused by humans — or that human are only “contributing” to the changes rather than (as scientists show) being the overwhelming cause. It raises misleading doubts about “the sensitivity of the climate” to greenhouse gas emissions and the ability of scientists to predict future warming.

3. In 2015, it argued that the Paris climate change agreement would damage US interests. It co-sponsored research that was used by the Trump Administration to justify pulling out of the Paris Agreement in 2017. Trump’s claim that the agreement “could cost Americans as much as 2.7 million lost jobs by 2025” did not take into account any benefits from cutting emissions.

4. It argues against measures to cut US greenhouse gas emissions:

● One of its stated priorities is to oppose the US Environmental Protection Agency’s efforts to regulate greenhouse gases through existing rules

● It described the US’s emission-cutting goal as “unrealistic” and claimed meeting the target would cost 6.5 million US jobs

● It said the US joined the Paris Agreement “to satisfy international constituencies, many of whom compete against the United States”

● It wrote to the Trump’s Transport Secretary asking her to withdraw rules on greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles.

● It has a history of using legal action to block action on climate change. In 2016 it took the Environmental Protection Agency to court to block the law aimed at helping the country meet the Paris Agreement.

5. It opposes restrictions on coal use and celebrated the approval of the controversial Dakota Access pipeline, describing opposition to it as “fringe interests”.

6. Its enthusiasm for fossil fuels is not matched by its views on renewable power. While asking what would happen without coal, it focused on the apparent problems with renewables.

7. A 2015 investigation by The New York Times exposed the USCC’s systematic efforts to help the tobacco industry fight life-saving measures to reduce tobacco use. Between 2011 and 2014 the USCC sent governments around the world letters objecting to measures such as health warning on packaging on the basis that they were a barrier to trade.

8. In 2012, the USCC and the National Association of Manufacturers filed a motion to overturn a part of the US Dodd-Frank Act which aimed to curb the trade in conflict minerals from eastern Congo. Amnesty International opposed the motion and campaign groups called for US electronics companies to distance themselves from the USCC’s position. The attempt was not successful, although President Trump has since suspended the provision.

9. The USCC’s position on climate change and tobacco lobbying is at odds with many of its members, according to an investigation by a group of US Senators. Many of the world’s top companies have quit the USCC in recent years — some explicitly doing so because of its policy positions — including Apple, Costco, CVS, eBay, Hewlett-Packard, General Mills, Kellogg, Kraft Heinz, Mars, Mattel, Mondelēz, Nestlé, Pacific Gas & Electric, Starbucks, Unilever and Walgreens Boots Alliance.

10. The USCC’s funding is opaque as it does not release a list of its donors. In 2010, Huffington Post asked its readers to help it find out who USCC’s funders are. Meanwhile the New York Times reported that in 2008, half of the USCC’s $140 million donations came from just 45 donors — despite the fact the chamber says it represents three million businesses.