CEOs descend on Washington demanding carbon price

Top officials from 75 U.S. companies descended on the U.S. Capitol Thursday to try and convince lawmakers to support the creation of a carbon price to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Among them were more than 20 companies from the Fortune 500, including brand names like Levi’s, Johnson & Johnson and Pepsi, along with European oil majors BP and Shell, who took meetings with Republicans and Democrats in Congress in a bid to increase momentum for legislation addressing climate change.

“If you read the United Nations report, we’re down to 11 years to get this right. This is not an academic conversation,” said Gary Hirschberg, chairman of the organic dairy giant Stonybrook Farms. “Until we engage the wider market [of U.S. industry], we’re not going to be able to move at the kind of speed required.”

The visit comes as climate change is getting increasing attention among Democrats and Republicans alike, with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, D-N.Y., pushing her Green New Deal while Republicans like Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, argue for increasing federal spending on research into reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

At a press conference Thursday, none of the executives gathered gave any chance to a carbon price passing the Republican-led Senate or getting the support of President Donald Trump, who has questioned the severity and causes of climate change.

But they argued momentum was on their side, hoping that political leaders would either be convinced or be voted out of office.

“You have oil companies taking about a carbon price,” said Hugh Welch, president of the nutrition company DSM. “We have enough collective mass now to do something.”

After the press conference ended, Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, the former presidential candidate, walked into meet with the CEOs.

Asked about his view on a carbon price, Romney said, “I’m just going to listen to what they have to say.”

This article first appeared on the Houston Chronicle – an Energy Voice content partner. For more from the Houston Chronicle click here.

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