Guest Post by Toby Webb, founder of Ethical Corporation

As we pointed out this month, along with lots of other media, lobby groups are ramping up opposition to the Obama administration’s climate change plans.

Not that these plans are perfect, as Jon Entine noted recently here.

In these difficult times it’s vital that companies stand up for what they believe in.

Too often over the past 15 years, many firms have said one thing in public, and then allowed their lobby groups to do the ‘dirty work’ of lobbying in short term financial interest for them.

This is not always true of course. Sometimes NGOs have said this was happening when it may well not have been, such as in the case of Starbucks a few years ago.

But in the case of climate change, we are seeing some very aggressive lobbying indeed. No doubt.

And one group, the powerful US Chamber of Commerce, is really going way too far.

The organization is trying to hold public hearings to cast doubt on the scientific evidence for man-made climate change.

Anyone seen the plot?

Clearly a barmy idea. Even if the science wasn’t largely settled, (and by that I mean there may be some variations but it doesn’t look in real doubt) what would such debates prove? Not much as far as I can tell.

One company has publicly said such an idea is bonkers is the Californian utility PG&E.

Reuters reports that PG&E’s CEO Peter Darbee has stated that: “An intellectually honest argument over the best policy response to the challenges of climate change is one thing; disingenuous attempts to diminish or distort the reality of these challenges is quite another,” Darbee wrote, according to PG&E’s Next 100 blog,, on Tuesday.”

PG&E is set to pull out of the US Chamber of Commerce as a result.

Whilst the company has only been a member for three years, it’s still a bold move.

This is what leadership in sustainability is all about: making decisions that will be unpopular in some circles, but are in line with your stated values.

More on the PG&E blog, here. reports some other shifts, here.

These include the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, which is mired in trouble. says that: “Last month, the ACCCE found itself involved in a scandal, when it was learned that a lobbying firm it had hired had sent 13 forged letters, purporting to be from the NAACP and several community-based organizations, to three members of the House of Representatives in advance of the June 26 House vote on Waxman-Markey. According to a background document issued by the ACCCE, the lobbying firm, Bonner & Associates, notified it of the forged letters on June 24.”

It’s getting ugly out there.

That’s what makes PG&E’s decision all the more laudable.

(The Economist recently ran an interesting piece on corporations and free speech, here)

© 2009, Toby Webb. All rights reserved. Do not republish.

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Author: Toby Webb (1 Articles)

Toby Webb, is the founder of a business intelligence company called Ethical Corporation. For eight years they have produced a regular business magazine, conferences, and research on ethics and business. He teaches corporate responsibility at Birkbeck College, part of the University of London, at Masters level. He is also director of content strategy for Ethical Corporation's parent company, FC Business Intelligence. Follow Toby on Twitter @tobiaswebb76. Read his blog, Reflections on Ethical Business: Musings on Corporate Responsibility.