President Joe Biden’s allies in business have helped the White House persuade the private sector to support the government’s climate change agenda.
Several business leaders working with the White House told CNBC that the effort is a huge departure from what they saw during the Trump administration.
For example, executives say they are less concerned about a tweet from the president when trying to push a new climate policy. Former President Donald Trump was known for targeting companies that appeared to oppose him on key issues.
“There is no longer any fear of the tweet, which I believe was a legitimate fear for many business leaders to speak up on these issues,” said Hugh Welsh, president of DSM North America, who is a member of the group’s CEO Climate Dialogue, told CNBC on Monday.
In contrast to Trump, Biden has proposed an aggressive climate policy. Trump pulled the US out of the Paris Climate Agreement in 2017 and, among other things, repealed the Obama-era regulations for methane gas, which could ultimately harm the environment. Biden reintroduced the US to the Paris Climate Agreement on his inauguration day.
Biden has also made tackling climate change a key part of his $ 2 trillion infrastructure plan. Biden’s proposal calls for a $ 174 billion investment in the electric vehicle market. It’s all part of the president’s goal to bring the country to net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Tom Steyer, a billionaire who ran for president during the Democratic primary, is among several business leaders who have actively involved the White House and government leaders in their climate proposals.
Steyer spoke with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and White House climate advisor Gina McCarthy about the need to work with the private sector on what is likely to be one of the president’s most expensive initiatives, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter.
Steyer spent millions to defeat Trump and has invested in climate change initiatives. He has a net worth of $ 1.4 billion, according to Forbes.
He was also a speaker at Morgan Stanley’s annual climate change conference, the person noted. Steyer told executives and investors at the meeting that they shouldn’t invest in fossil fuel companies to fight climate change.
This person declined to be called to discuss private matters. Morgan Stanley representatives did not respond to requests for comment. The White House did not respond to a request for comment prior to publication.
The US Chamber of Commerce and the CEO Climate Dialogue have also engaged the White House in climate initiatives. The chamber rejects Biden’s plan to increase corporate taxes, but supports an infrastructure overhaul.
The CEO Climate Dialogue has nearly two dozen members, including companies from Wall Street and the energy sector. The organization aims to promote private sector use and a more market-oriented approach to secure net zero emissions by 2050.
Climate Dialogue’s CEO Welsh told CNBC that the group had contacted the White House in Biden to improve relationships with corporate executives.
“The group was involved with Gina McCarthy and a few others in rebuilding relations with the White House after the last four years,” said Welsh.
Marty Durbin, president of the Chamber of Commerce’s Global Energy Institute, told CNBC the group had contacted McCarthy and Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm.
Durbin said the chamber was trying to encourage Granholm and members of Congress to fully fund climate-based research and development projects. The group has also tried to encourage the new administration to work with the private sector on green policy proposals.
“We need to figure out how we can enable the private sector to fund, use and commercialize these technologies. That is how we will see emissions reductions at the end of the day,” said Durbin.
Members of a fundraising group called Clean Energy for Biden also act as a bridge to the private sector. Dan Reicher, co-chair of the organization, told CNBC that he had prepared a spending proposal to increase energy production from the country’s dams.
The document, which was sent to the White House and approved by nearly a dozen organizations and trade associations, states that only 2,500 of the roughly 90,000 dams in the US generate electricity.
“If this $ 63.07 billion proposal is fully implemented over a 10-year period, around 500,000 well-paying jobs will be created, more than 32,000 kilometers of rivers restored to improve climate resilience, and more than 80 gigawatts of existing ones secure renewable hydropower and 23 gigawatts. ” Electricity storage “, it says in the proposal.
It also called on Biden to order the establishment of a committee to vote on dam improvements and regulatory issues.
Reicher said the draft had been sent to Phil Giudice and David Hayes, two of Biden’s climate policy advisors and members of Congress, among others.
The Clean Energy for Biden group is evolving into 501 (c) (3) and 501 (c) (4) nonprofits, both of which are referred to as Clean Energy for America, Reicher added.
The Clean Energy for America website states that while Biden’s climate change agenda is supported, it will also “support candidates at the federal, state and local levels by fundraising, mobilizing the workforce for clean energy, and providing early resource availability.”