Op-Ed: Here’s how companies can strong-arm their suppliers into cutting carbon emissions
A new report from the UK’s Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) reveals the ways in which major corporations around the world are conspiring to exploit environmental and human rights laws, while selling products that threaten human health and the planet.
The EIA’s report, “Corporate Climate Crime: how major businesses are fighting the fight on climate change”, is the most extensive investigation of corporate “greenwashing”, to date, and one of the most comprehensive studies of the issue of ‘greenwashing’ to date.
It makes a strong plea for the use of existing legal tools to cut off carbon-dioxide (CO2) emissions and protect the environment in the name of human rights.
The report draws from a series of cases that have emerged in recent years, some of which we are currently seeing more and more, particularly in the automotive sector. These cases concern the use of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the United States to require manufacturers to cut emissions under the agency’s “emissions standard” program.
This method of environmental regulation by fiat, is in essence to be used by multinational corporations in a way that is much like a tax or tariff. An automotive manufacturer, for example, can cut emissions by lowering CO2 emissions by as much as 50% by choosing to reduce the efficiency of its vehicles, but the EPA requires the company to pay a fee, called the “emissions cost” or the “emissions surcharge” to cover up for the company’s emissions.
In addition, the EPA is now allowing, and in some instances requiring, a company to buy credits for the pollution they release. And, as EIA has shown, most of this corporate emissions reduction are not genuine reductions in emissions that occur when vehicles actually are driven, but are the result of other corporate policies that make it less expensive or more convenient to choose a less polluting vehicle, such as an electric or hybrid car.
In the past, governments have been able to use laws such as the Clean Air Act to regulate pollutant emissions. The Clean Air Act is now used by the EU to