Industrial trade group split over Paris agreement - Smart Energy Decisions

GHG Emissions, Industrial, Regulation  -  June 13, 2017

Industrial trade group split over Paris agreement

The Eastman Chemical Co. has discontinued its membership in the Industrial Energy Consumers of America, citing the trade group's opposition to U.S. participation in the Paris climate accord. 

The Washington Post reported June 13 that leading up to President Donald Trump's decision to pull the U.S. out of the agreement, just as hundreds of corporations were pledging support for the global agreement, IECA sent two letters to the White House opposing U.S. involvement. The trade group, according to copies of the letters published by the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre, told the Trump administration on behalf of its members that it "fails to see the benefits of the Paris Climate Accord," and worried that the agreement puts U.S. manufacturers "at a competitive disadvantage." 

In response, Eastman, alongside several other member companies including International Paper, Owens Corning and SABIC issued statements to the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre — an international organization that asked the companies for comment on IECA's letters — expressing their disapproval of IECA's position. Eastman was the only company to take the added step to leave the trade group, however.

David Golden, senior vice president and chief legal and sustainability officer for Eastman, reportedly told the humans rights group: "While we valued the IECA's work in areas unrelated to climate change, the organization's action is so at odds with Eastman's position that we also cannot reconcile continued participation in IECA with our commitment to sustainability. As such, this week we discontinued our IECA membership."

According to The Post, the center made its inquiries to several of the trade group's member companies after the Natural Resources Defense Council pointed out the discrepancy between IECA's stance and that of some of its members on the Paris agreement earlier this month.

Eastman, like hundreds of other corporations from Apple to Nike to energy giants such as Exxon Mobil, supported U.S. participation in the Paris accord. But a number of other energy-intensive firms, supported walking away from the deal, "though most often less publicly," according to The Washington Post. 

The newspaper reported: 

The rift is playing out in trade groups like IECA, which represents a diverse set of chemical, metal, paper, glass and cement manufacturers, that find themselves caught in the middle of the two camps. It's unclear how many groups fall on either side of the divide within IECA, as it doesn't disclose its members.

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