In the ever-evolving landscape of business advocacy, the spotlight has lingered on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, witnessing a gradual erosion of its leadership and a West Coast surge in support for clean energy initiatives. While high-profile defections from the U.S. Chamber have made headlines, the emergence of a distinctly green coalition has been brewing, reflecting a shift towards sustainable business practices.
A West Coast Exodus: Noteworthy Defections
Since 2009, the departure of prominent entities like Apple and California’s PG&E marked a pivotal moment when companies began distancing themselves from the U.S. Chamber. Nike followed suit, leaving only the chamber’s board amid conflicts over a comprehensive climate bill. The San Diego Green Chamber of Commerce has now elevated this trend, transforming into a national advocate for clean-energy investment. This move builds upon the groundwork laid by the San Francisco Chamber, uniting various “green” chambers across the nation.
Seattle Contemplates Change: A Shift in Allegiance
In Seattle, the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce contemplates severing ties with the national group, fueled by a growing inclination towards the new green chamber coalition. George Allen, Senior Vice President of Government Relations with the Seattle Chamber, expressed intrigue, highlighting the need to redirect attention towards the burgeoning clean-energy economy. The board is yet to convene and make a final decision on this prospective shift.
“It’s an intriguing idea. Clearly, there’s a need to focus more attention on the clean-energy economy,” Allen remarked. He emphasized that concerns stemmed from the U.S. Chamber’s forceful opposition to national climate policy and its active funding against Democrats during the last election.
A Silent Giant: U.S. Chamber’s Response
While the U.S. Chamber has remained silent in response to these green initiatives, its influence persists, especially in the aftermath of the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling, granting it unprecedented spending power in election campaigns. Despite spending $33 million in the 2010 campaign and signaling plans for more in 2012, the U.S. Chamber faces a growing challenge from the burgeoning national green chamber.
A Unified Vision: Green Chamber’s Ascent
The national green chamber aims not to dismantle but to supplant some of the U.S. Chamber’s influence. San Diego’s green chamber boasts notable members such as Toyota, Kimpton Hotels, Northwestern Mutual, and Union Bank. Partnering with E2, a network of clean-energy-focused business leaders, and collaborating with existing green chambers in San Francisco, Las Vegas, and North Carolina, the national green chamber seeks to amplify the voices of businesses advocating for sustainability.
David Steel, President of the U.S. Green Chamber, affirmed, “There are businesses out there that want their voices heard. They don’t feel represented by the positions that the U.S. Chamber might have.”
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