Climate Protection Needs Lobbyists, Too

Climate Protection Needs Lobbyists

There’s no “special interest” for climate protection – everyone benefits from keeping our planet’s temperature in a safe range. But that doesn’t mean we can’t lobby for it on Capitol Hill. In March, that’s exactly what members of Ceres’ BICEP (Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy) did.

For companies like Fetzer Vineyards, this was part of a growing commitment to public advocacy. Fetzer has been been pioneering environmental protection in the wine industry for decades, including solar energy, emission reductions, zero waste, water conservation, and more. Now we’re joining other industry leaders to address policy-makers more publicly.

Over the past three years, I’ve represented Fetzer Vineyards at COP 21 (Paris) and sustainability conferences and events around the world to discuss our commitment to climate change and creating a more sustainable future. We’re also supporters of Low-Carbon USA, the Blue Business Council, and Ceres’ “Connect the Drops” campaign in California. It was our membership in BICEP that took me to Capitol Hill this spring along with representatives from Ben & Jerry, Clif Bar, Levi Strauss and other major U.S. brands.

Businesses Back Climate Protection

The purpose of the trip was simple: convince influential lawmakers that many diverse businesses across the United States support climate protection. We don’t uniformly view environmental regulation as bad for business. We need a healthy environment to run healthy businesses.

We spent March 22 visiting the offices of Republican Senators and Representatives, because their party will determine whether the U.S. remains in step with the rest of the world in addressing climate change. Time is of the essence. The Paris Climate Agreement (to keep global temperature increases below 2° Celsius) requires immediate and significant action. While the U.S. was a leader at COP 21, the White House has not said whether the U.S. will stay in the agreement. As a leading wine business, we urgently feel it’s essential that we do.

Congress Controls U.S. Climate Policy

The good news is that we found a receptive audience at the Congressional offices we visited. Members of Congress place a high value on in-person visits from business leaders willing to travel to Washington D.C. and speak for their industries. We also heard that Congress is not giving up its environmental policy role to the President – it’s a co-equal branch of government with its own values and ideas.

Along with the Paris Climate Agreement, we talked about funding for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy. The White House has targeted them both for funding cuts to programs that are proven to help the U.S. reduce carbon emissions.

Getting Active for the Causes That Count

We also voiced our support for the Republican Climate Resolution in the House, which acknowledges climate change, and urged Senators to block repeal of the Methane Waste Protection rule that was passed last year. It limits a destructive category of carbon emission while saving an estimated $800 million over the next decade. It’s just good practical management of a natural resource, and only a few Republican votes are needed to preserve it.

If you are inclined to contact Congressional Republicans from your state, these topics are both timely and important. I can promise you that Fetzer Vineyards will continue to seek and act on opportunities for public advocacy – and continue to demonstrate leadership by example. Meanwhile, if this post has inspired you to become more active in advocating at the congressional level for the programs you believe in most – and especially if those programs help preserve and protect our environment – then that just made my day.