‘We will have a really long, long memory’: Greens calling businesses’ bluff on climate change

A road is partially covered in floodwater in the wake of Hurricane Ida. | Sean Rayford/Getty Images

Green groups backing the Democrats’ $3.5 trillion spending package are aiming their fury at one of the bill’s most powerful opponents: corporate business lobbies that claim to support action on climate change.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Business Roundtable and the National Association of Manufacturers all support the much smaller bipartisan infrastructure bill championed by the Biden White House, which includes tens of billions of dollars for responding to climate disasters and promoting green power. They also backed billions in new spending last year for wind, solar and renewable energy.

But the same business groups have taken a hard line against the Democrats’ $3.5 trillion plan, which would raise taxes on the wealthy and corporations while tackling causes such as health care, child care and racial equity in addition to climate change. The groups are sticking with that position even as some of their own members, such as Pfizer, Microsoft and Bank of America, have criticized them for doing too little on climate.

Environmentalists and their supporters in Congress have a message for those companies: Pick a side. With much of the country still recovering from the death and wreckage of Hurricane Ida and after a summer of heat waves and wildfires across the globe, they are promising that businesses will face lasting repercussions to their reputations if they waffle on what could be their best opportunity to take on climate change.

“It’s a really hard test for corporations: Was it all bullshit?” said Lori Lodes, executive director of Climate Power, a group whose leaders include veterans of Hillary Clinton’s and Elizabeth Warren’s presidential campaigns. “There’s one train and you’re either getting on it or we will have a really long, long memory.” 09-13-21

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