New Faces Among the Climate Lobby

That oil companies and solar start-ups alike are increasingly deploying climate lobbyists in Washington — most in the hopes of influencing deliberations over pending climate legislation in Congress — is hardly surprising. But the makers of Campbell’s soup?

Indeed, Campbell is apparently among a growing group of less obvious companies and organizations that have recently registered to lobby legislators on the climate, according to research done by The Center for Public Integrity, a nonpartisan watchdog group in Washington.

The Center found that while the “overall number of businesses and groups lobbying on climate legislation has essentially held steady at about 1,160 — thanks in part to a variety of interests that have left the fray,” the most recent entries were companies that, according to the Center, “feel they’ve been overlooked” and “are fighting for a place at the table.”

The main concern for Campbell — along with other food companies like Kellogg and Del Monte Foods — is that the House version of the climate bill, which would see the creation of a cap-and-trade scheme for limiting carbon-dioxide emissions, would provide free emissions permits for energy-intensive companies producing products on the international market, like steel and aluminum.

The permits would allow such companies to continue to manufacture at costs that remain competitive against rivals like China, but companies like Campbell, which are less energy-intensive, say the system would inadvertently penalize them, because they would have to shop for their permits at auction.

“I think it’s clear from our view that we’re not being treated as fairly as carbon-intensive industries,” Kelly Johnston, Campbell Soup’s vice president for government affairs told the Center for Public Integrity. Mr. Johnston would like to see his industry exempted from the caps, or provided free permits as well. “There needs to be some recognition of the role the food industry plays in our economy.”

Meanwhile, the Center found that venture capitalists, who have substantially increased investment in clean-energy ventures, were also increasing their climate lobbying. As they see it, putting a stiff price on carbon emissions will drive up the cost of conventional fuels like coal, and make clean-tech ventures more competitive.

“We’d like to see a price on carbon that escalates at a reasonable rate in the early years, not just the later years,” Will Coleman, a partner with Mohr Davidow Ventures of Menlo Park, Calif., told the Center.

“My biggest concern is that if we are less aggressive in carbon targets and carbon pricing, we may incur more costs in the future,” he added, “because we’ll drive less investment into the space.”

The full analysis from the Center for Public integrity can be found here.

By SINDYA N. BHANOO
http://greeninc.blogs.nytimes.com/

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