by Roger Koppl
Today’s Los Angeles Times reports that “Businesspeople join the ranks of climate treaty proponents.” This support is old news as I noted last May in a post entitled “Water does not run uphill.” The L A Times report nevertheless express surprise saying, “an unlikely batch of advocates has emerged to champion a new global warming agreement: businesspeople.” And yet the same article contains clear statements that many big businesses see profit opportunities in a climate treaty.
Climate laws are barriers to entry. Thus, the profit opportunities should be greatest for the biggest businesses and for the energy sector, lowest or non-existent for other business interests. The story gives evidence supporting this inference. Coca-Cola supports a treaty, the need for which represents the “consensus of oil and gas executives.” The US Chamber of Commerce, however, opposes emission limits before Congress and expresses caution regarding a global climate treaty. The US Chamber of Commerce represents a large number of very different business interests and businesses of different sizes. Thus, it tends to support positions such as free trade and oppose measures such as the prospective climate change treaty being discussed in Copenhagen.
This analysis does not say anything about the reality of global warming or whether warming is anthropogenic. But it should disabuse anyone of the notion that big business has acquired a social conscious. Water does not run uphill. Business support for a climate treaty reflects not social conscious, but careful calculations of profit and loss.