It’s official: giant corporations collectively possess more of a soul than any of the Republicans currently running for president.

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More than 80 U.S. companies have agreed to a plan initiated by the Obama administration to combat climate change, the White House announced on Monday, a crucial step towards aligning American interests prior to the Paris climate negotiations in November.

Time reports that the pledge includes support for the Paris negotiations, emissions cuts, and an increase in low-carbon investments. Some specifics, according to the White House announcement:

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These pledges include ambitious, company-specific goals such as:

  • Reducing emissions by as much as 50 percent,
  • Reducing water usage by as much as 80 percent,
  • Achieving zero waste-to-landfill,
  • Purchasing 100 percent renewable energy, and
  • Pursuing zero net deforestation in supply chains.

Companies who have agreed to the plan include Walmart, Intel, General Motors, Apple, Google, American Express, GE, McDonald’s, Nike, Coca-Cola, and more. Together, these 81 companies employ over 9 million people and represent more than $3 trillion in annual revenue.

The Obama administration is committed to cutting nearly 6 billion tons of carbon pollution through 2030. The pledge attributes the following to the companies in question:

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We recognize that delaying action on climate change will be costly in economic and human terms, while accelerating the transition to a low-carbon economy will produce multiple benefits with regard to sustainable economic growth, public health, resilience to natural disasters, and the health of the global environment.

According to Obama, via BBC:

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“The perception is that this is an environmental issue, it’s for tree-huggers, and hardheaded business people either don’t care about it, or see it as a conflict with their bottom lines,” he said.

“Considerations of climate change, energy efficiency, renewable energies are not only not contradictory to their bottom lines, but for these companies they are discovering that they can enhance their bottom lines.”

As President Obama is unable to get actual climate change legislation through a Republican-led Congress—Sen. James Inhofe (R), who denies the existence of climate change and once threw a snowball at a colleague to prove this point, is the chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee—pledges like these are his best workarounds, and a smart tactic for undercutting the (inaccurate) right-wing refrain that such regulations would be bad for business.

It’s nowhere near ideal that big corporations hold such enormous sway over American politics. But in this particular area, it looks like that influence might prove advantageous for the planet.


Contact the author at ellie@jezebel.com.

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Image via Associated Press.