Helping High-Tech Titans Shape Federal Climate Policy

The high-tech industry is a powerful driver of economic growth.  Whether a business is in the retail, healthcare, banking or other sector, technology innovations likely help that business run more effectively and reduce costs.  The high-tech industry has the potential to also be a powerful driver for climate solutions.

That’s why members of Business Climate Leaders were excited to meet with more than a dozen titans of the high-tech industry in October in Silicon Valley to explore carbon pricing policies and to  discuss the potential for joint advocacy for carbon pricing legislation.

Many businesses want market-friendly climate action

Business Climate Leaders (BCL) is a Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL) action team.  BCL engages large businesses at a sector and national level to get collective endorsements and lobbying support for carbon pricing legislation.  BCL also helps CCL chapters with outreach to local small- and mid-sized businesses.

“Companies worry about climate change. They know it will destabilize the economic environment and disrupt supply chains,” explains Steve Hams, BCL Engagement Director and chapter co-lead for Silicon Valley North.  “Businesses thrive on stability,” he continues. “They want to understand what the future holds so they can plan with confidence.  And a predictable, steadily rising price on carbon is climate policy that fills that need.”

Congress cares about the concerns of businesses

Politicians listen to business leaders because businesses provide jobs, pay tax revenue and contribute to political campaigns.

“Business people are also powerful problem solvers,” Hams notes. “When a business brings a concern to a member of Congress, the legislator knows the company has thought long and hard about the issue being discussed.”

Hams adds, “Legislators realize that high-tech is a leading-edge industry that drives economic growth and job creation.  The concerns of the high-tech industry have significant impact with Congress.

Organizing the convening

With business momentum for climate action growing, Hams surmises that the collective voice of high-tech leaders can have greater impact on Congress than individual company voices.

Hams was able to team with a senior executive of a leading Silicon Valley industry group to co-sponsor the meeting and invite major tech companies to participate.  “The partnership with the industry group was critical.  Most of the invitees belong to their group, so their involvement added significant legitimacy to the event.”

BCL and its co-sponsor were able to leverage existing relationships to secure the participation of a core group of major companies, with one of them agreeing to host the meeting at their facility.  After that, many other companies wanted a seat at the table.

The convening

The BCL team had an inspiring meeting with sustainability and government relations leaders from the 13 participating companies.   

At the October event, each participant shared his or her company’s impressive actions to date regarding sustainability, climate, clean energy and priorities for future action.  The companies saw the transition to a clean energy economy as a great opportunity to innovate.  And, internally, as an opportunity to reduce operational costs and stabilize energy portfolios.

Next, the group had an interactive, in-depth discussion about the legislative landscape and different carbon pricing policies.  They shared insights and raised key questions, particularly about CCL’s Carbon Fee and Dividend (CF&D) solution and how it compares with other carbon fee proposals.

Hams reveals, “After the meeting, one participant told me his CEO already decided to publicly endorse CF&D.  We hope the leadership of this visionary company will encourage other companies to follow suit.”

Lastly, the group explored joint advocacy alternatives and agreed upon next steps to organize collective efforts.  The group identified three key steps required for their companies to participate in collective advocacy:

  • Develop and present a clear and compelling joint advocacy position.
  • Demonstrate internally why advocacy would be good for the business and its reputation.
  • Convince company leaders to designate this as an “actionable priority.”

Next steps

Technology innovation helped make America one of the greatest nations on Earth. Together, these high-tech titans can influence federal climate policy and help make America a leader in solving climate change. The group will meet again in April of 2018. 

In the meantime, BCL and its industry group partner will continue to pursue pathways for successful joint advocacy.  And the high-tech participants will hold internal discussions with their respective company’s leaders to build momentum.  Stay tuned for more progress!