U.S. Businesses Conflicted about Adopting Climate Change

Want Federal government to tackle issues

When asked, U.S. businesses feel it's the job of the federal government to do something about climate change. In a survey released this week from law firm Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, 60% said they worry about compliance costs related to climate change rules, 56% of private company respondents (and 66% of public ones) think the federal government should do more to help reduce or limit global warming, including the development and use of alternative and renewable energy.

"Most people would like to see greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduced to help curb the effects of climate change, but serious questions remain about how best to do it and pay for it," said San Francisco partner Michael Steel, co-head of Pillsbury's Climate Change and Sustainability practice.

Fifty-seven percent of those surveyed say that in the past 12-24 months they have switched to using or selling more recycled materials or products, and nearly 49% have reduced their use of electricity. Another 48% participate in programs to properly dispose of computers and other technologies that leak radiation and other contaminants.

Just twenty-three percent of those surveyed have upgraded or converted to cleaner technologies or equipment, while 21% have reduced their use of fossil fuels. "This may simply reflect that it often takes time for businesses to recognize that a train is coming down the tracks right at them. But with more than 50 climate change bills recently introduced in Congress, companies may need to get onto the express track much faster," said Steel.

As for recent proposals around carbon trading, both public and private companies surveyed expressed disinterest. Just 2% of those surveyed have invested in carbon credits, and 25% of the respondents, mostly smaller business owners, were not familiar with any carbon credit program, which suggests far more education about carbon trading may be warranted for it to succeed as a viable alternative for emissions-heavy companies.

Sources: IndustryWeek staff, Agence France-Presse

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