In Climate Row, Nike Gives Up Chamber Board Seat

by | Oct 1, 2009

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nike combatWhile not yet willing to give up its membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Nike nonetheless sent a strong message by relinquishing its position on the board of directors, in protest over the chamber’s controversial position on climate change.

In a statement published at the Natural Resource Defense Council’s blog, Nike stated, “We fundamentally disagree with the US Chamber of Commerce on the issue of climate change and their recent action challenging the EPA is inconsistent with our view that climate change is an issue in need of urgent action.”

Nike did not go so far as three other chamber members. Three major U.S. utilities – PG&E, PMN and Exelon – have announced their intention not to renew their chamber memberships, in response to the chamber’s call to put the science behind climate change on trial.

Nike said it wants the chamber to play a positive role in the climate change discussion.

“We believe businesses and their representative associations need to take an active role to invest in sustainable business practices and innovative solutions,” Nike said.

“It is important that US companies be represented by a strong and effective Chamber that reflects the interests of all its members on multiple issues. We believe that on the issue of climate change the Chamber has not represented the diversity of perspective held by the board of directors,” the shoe company continued.

On Sept. 30, the Chamber of Commerce issued a statement, aimed at defending and clarifying its position.

Thomas Donahue, President and CEO of the chamber, said the chamber wants the U.S. and other nations to negotiate an international agreement that sets binding CO2 reduction commitments for each nation, “while allowing each to devise its own best path to meeting its target.”

Donahue said the chamber opposes the House climate bill “because it is neither comprehensive nor international, and it falls short on moving renewable and alternative technologies into the marketplace and enabling our transition to a lower carbon future. It would also impose carbon tariffs on goods imported into the United States, a move that would almost certainly spur retaliation from global trading partners.”

Donahue called out environmental advocates, saying that just because the chamber opposes a specific bill or approach does not mean it is against all efforts to reduce greenhouse gases, or that it denies the existence of a problem.

Nike has not given up on the chamber, but it clearly is trying to send a message.

“We will continue our membership to advocate for climate change legislation inside the committee structure and believe that we can better influence policy by being part of the conversation. Moving forward we will continue to evaluate our membership,”  Nike said.

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