Companies vowing climate action also back lobby groups trying to kill landmark climate bill

Companies vowing climate action also back lobby groups trying to kill landmark climate bill
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos/Twitter

A new analysis out Friday makes clear the wide gap between corporations' stated commitments to fighting the climate crisis and the lengths they are currently going to in order to stop the passage of the biggest climate action spending package in U.S. history.

The research by the progressive advocacy group Accountable.US examined statements and pledges made in recent years by companies including American Airlines, Amazon, Apple, and Google regarding the corporations' plans to end carbon emissions, shift to fleets of electric vehicles, and take other steps to help combat the climate emergency.

Those stated commitments mean little, Accountable.US said, considering the companies' close ties with lobbying firms that are actively working to kill the Build Back Better Act, the spending package which would invest $3.5 trillion over 10 years to transition towards renewable energy and bolster the wellbeing of working Americans.

"Major corporations love to tell us how committed they are to addressing the climate crisis and building a sustainable future, but behind closed doors, they are funding the very industry trade groups that are fighting tooth and nail to stop the biggest climate change bill ever," Kyle Herrig, president of Accountable.US, told The Guardian.

Microsoft, for example, said last year it would be carbon negative by 2030, emphasizing that "the scientific consensus is clear" about the human-caused climate emergency and the danger planet-heating carbon emissions pose to humanity.

The company also unveiled a plan to establish a $1 billion climate innovation fund "to accelerate the global development of carbon reduction, capture, and removal technologies."

The analysis by Accountable.US showed that despite Microsoft's claimed commitment to climate action, some of the company's executives are among the board members of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce—the largest lobbying group in the United States—which has made no secret of its goal of tanking the Build Back Better plan, which progressives hope to pass through the filibuster-proof reconciliation process.

The Chamber said in August that it was prepared to "do everything we can to prevent this tax raising, job-killing reconciliation bill from becoming law."

On social media, Accountable.US pointed to other examples of large corporations whose stated concerns over the climate emergency are inconsistent with their involvement with powerful lobbying groups.

The group responded to a tweet from American Airlines on helping to "accelerate the technologies needed to reach net zero emissions" by pointing out that the aviation company is opposed to the reconciliation bill, which would invest in electric vehicle infrastructure, create millions of good-paying clean energy jobs, and reduce emissions from transportation, among other measures.

Executives at retail giant Walmart are among the board members of the Business Roundtable, which is also fighting the passage of the spending bill, saying it is "deeply concerned" about the tax increases progressives have called for to fund anti-poverty measures as well as climate action.

On Twitter, Accountable.US scoffed at a recent call for "strong climate policy" by the company's chief sustainability officer.

"Let's be clear: Walmart, one of the biggest companies in America, says they support the climate initiatives in the Build Back Better Plan," said the watchdog. "But the company is actively fighting its passage."

The Business Roundtable's members also include executives at Alphabet—Google's parent company—and Amazon. The latter company has pledged to cut its own emissions to net zero by 2040 while Google was lauded last year for announcing what The Verge called "one of Big Tech's most ambitious environmental commitments... to run its operations purely on carbon-free energy by 2030."

Some of the lobbying firms fighting against the spending plan are bombarding the airwaves with ad campaigns attacking the legislation, claiming its provisions will hurt working families.

In a memo published Thursday, Accountable.US noted that right-wing corporate Democrats including Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) and Reps. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) and Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.) "banked over $150,000 in campaign donations from corporate interests—including those that are helping lead business groups opposing the bill."

"Corporate interests will say or do anything to preserve the broken status quo, including lie to families that overdue investments in child care, education, and climate change are somehow not in their interest," wrote Herrig in the memo. "Democrats in Congress are the last people who should be saying and doing it for them."

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