Energy and Environment Business Roundtable Energy & Environment Committee Chair Testifies on the ‘Cost of Inaction’ on Climate Change

Apr 15, 2021

Washington - Business Roundtable Energy and Environment Committee Chair George Oliver, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Johnson Controls, testified today before the U.S. Senate Budget Committee during a hearing on “Climate Change: The Cost of Inaction.” Oliver highlighted that the Roundtable has for more than a decade called for collective action to address climate change and last year released climate principles and policies, which included the use of a market-based strategy that includes a price on carbon where feasible and effective.

“Business Roundtable adopted an updated climate statement … The statement emphasized that ‘[u]nchecked, the changing climate poses significant environmental, economic, public health and security threats to countries around the world, including the United States. The risk of unanticipated changes and impacts—some of which may be large and irreversible—will only increase as the Earth’s system warms more quickly,’ said Oliver.
“The statement also stressed that ‘[t]he consequences of climate change for global prosperity and socioeconomic well-being are significant; the world simply cannot afford the costs of inaction.’”

Oliver also detailed his company’s commitment to sustainability. 

“At Johnson Controls, sustainability is our business. We have been reporting our emissions and taking action to reduce our footprint for 20 years. We were among the first industrial companies to join the UN Global Compact and through an aggressive series of enterprise-wide initiatives, we have cut our energy intensity by more than 50% and our greenhouse gas intensity by more than 70%. … Building on our history of sustainability leadership, we committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions before 2040 and announced science-based targets for 2030,” he said.

Discussing how the United States can lead by example, Oliver detailed the core principles Business Roundtable CEOs believe should guide public policy: 

• Align policy goals and GHG emissions reduction targets with scientific evidence;

• Increase global engagement, cooperation and accountability;

• Leverage market-based solutions wherever possible;

• Provide for adequate transition time and long-term regulatory certainty;

• Preserve the competitiveness of U.S. businesses, including avoiding economic and emissions “leakage”;

• Minimize social and economic costs for those least able to bear them;

• Support both public and private investment in low-carbon and GHG emissions reduction technologies along the full innovation pipeline;

• Minimize administrative burdens and duplicative policies while maximizing compliance flexibility;

• Ensure that U.S. policies account for international emissions reductions programs; 

• Advance climate resilience and adaption; and

• Eliminate barriers to the deployment of emissions reduction technologies and low-carbon energy sources.

In addition, Oliver addressed some of the key policies necessary to meet the scope of the climate challenge, including driving energy efficiency; investing in technology; and using a market-based emissions reduction strategy that includes a price on carbon where it is environmentally and economically effective and administratively feasible.

“In order to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, the world must work together to limit global temperature increases. The United States and the international community must aggressively reduce GHG emissions and create incentives for developing new technologies to achieve these reductions. At Johnson Controls we know that when we take this challenge on, we will cut emissions, cut costs, create good jobs and more resilient, healthy infrastructure,” Oliver concluded.

To mitigate the worsts impacts of climate change, Business Roundtable supports the objectives of the Paris Climate Agreement to limit global temperature rise this century to well below two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. To this end, the Roundtable supports a goal of reducing net U.S. GHG emissions by at least 80 percent by 2050 from 2005 levels.