Just a short drive across the Coast Ranges of California from the drought stricken Central Valley, business elites are meeting at The Fairmont San Francisco this week for the annual Ceres Conference to advance the liberal environmental agenda. Of course, according to the event homepage, “climate change” is to blame for “torrential rain events” and “unprecedented drought” making “the time ripe for creative disruption”. We’re still waiting on the roundtable discussion on how torrential rain and unprecedented drought can be caused by the same weather alarmism, but common sense seems to be lacking on the agenda anyway.
The alarmist language surrounding the leftist environmental talking points are not surprising given the policy positions Ceres has taken in the past. After all, this organization has long advocated for cap-and-trade legislation and mandates limiting the use of fossil fuels in energy production. However, the structure of the conference sheds light on how businesses are helping fund, and take advantage of, liberal environmental policy.
Many familiar corporate names headline the list of Conference Sponsors this year. Convening Sponsor Bank of America is joined by Prudential, Wells Fargo, JPMorgan & Chase, Citigroup, MorganStanley, and others from the financial sector. Retailers and manufacturers like General Motors, Ford, Levi Strauss, General Mills, Pepsi, and Gap Inc. are included as supporters. Disney also represents the entertainment industry while Intel rounds out the event a representative from the tech field.
It is important to keep an eye on groups like Ceres and its Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy, or BICEP, project because they exemplify the alliance development the left uses to push liberal environmental advocacy. Just like the marriage issue, the modern environmental movement has three components: government, academia, and business. Ceres just happens to be the catalyst pulling big business into the fold.
The published agenda for the Ceres Conference starts to show why corporations are engaged with the environmental movement, especially from an investment standpoint. A session titled “Catalyzing the Clean Trillion: Accelerating Clean Energy Opportunities” includes panelists from the Climate Bonds Initiative and Bloomberg New Energy Finance for discussion on “green bonds” and financing opportunities as part of a $1 trillion increase in “clean energy investment” by the year 2030.
In 2009, Darryl Siry, the former head of marketing at Tesla Motors, Inc. said, “Putting massive capital behind select start-ups is sucking the air away from the rest of the venture-capital ecosystem. Being anointed by DOE (Department of Energy) has become everything for companies looking to move ahead.” In other words, corporations are focusing on making strategic investment decisions based on the belief that government will continue to push environmental policies advocated for by groups like Ceres and are predicting a considerable return on investment.
There are many more examples of the efforts Ceres is making to build partnerships between business and the execution of radical environmental policy goals. Panelists from Prudential, MorganStanley, and Ford will be leading a session on managing investor expectations for companies taking “bold action” on environmental issues. In another session, a business initiative manager from Wells Fargo will be speaking on new media communication strategies to help boost public relations outreach for firms on their “sustainability reporting”. With these types of code words, taxpayers and conservatives should keep a close eye on their wallets.
With big business teaming up with organizations like Ceres to promote liberal environmental policies, it creates a slippery slope where the federal and state governments are picking winners and losers and large corporations are best positioned to benefit. It’s not only bad environmental policy, it’s corporate welfare and cronyism.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in California, farmers and business owners in small towns are reeling from the drought conditions exacerbated by policies that have limited the ability to retain water. Bonner Cohen of the National Center for Public Policy Research said recently, “This is a man-made disaster.” The construction of dams and reservoirs that would alleviate the symptoms of droughts in California has been limited by environmentalists for decades.
So after an agenda promising “provocative conversation” on a “drier future”, Ceres is hosting a breakfast on how businesses and residents can engage in “smarter” water management. Will responsible infrastructure development development be offered as a solution? We’re not holding our breath.
Chris Walker is the Executive Director of 2nd Vote, a conservative shopper app. To find out more, download the free app or visit 2ndVote.com.