While U.S. businesses are concerned about compliance costs related to climate change legislation, those same companies still believe that the federal government should be doing more to combat global warming, according to a new survey sponsored by law firm Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman.
Though 60 percent of survey respondents said they worry about compliance costs related to climate change rules, 56 percent of private company respondents (and 66 percent 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.
“This reflects the dilemma that Congress and Americans as a whole face,” said San Francisco partner Michael Steel, co-head of Pillsbury’s Climate Change & Sustainability practice. “Most people would like to see greenhouse gas emissions reduced to help curb the effects of climate change, but serious questions remain about how best to do it and pay for it.”
Steel said that these questions may help explain why some companies may be struggling with what type of green practices to employ, therefore delaying adoption, even as they are increasingly aware of environmental issues, including global warming.
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 percent have reduced their use of electricity. Another 48 percent participate in programs to properly dispose of computers and other technologies that leak radiation and other contaminants.
“All of these practices do contribute positively to the environment, but ideas will be needed to significantly reduce greenhouse gases, such as the ideas coming out of states such as California, New York, Massachusetts and others,” said Steel.
Just 23 percent of those surveyed have upgraded or converted to cleaner technologies or equipment, while 21 percent 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.
Only 13.3 percent of survey respondents have conducted an energy audit of usage and efficiency
As for recent proposals around carbon trading, both public and private companies surveyed expressed disinterest. Just two percent of those surveyed have invested in carbon credits, and 25 percent 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.