"The U.S. Chamber doesn't speak for me". That's the message from 350.org, which launched its campaign against the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's anti-environment policies today.
350.org claim that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is little more than an industry front group, in thrall to a small number of big businesses. This leaves the many local businesses that make up the Chamber with little or no power to effect change on climate and energy legislation.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce claims to represent "more than three million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions". On its website, the Chamber states that its core purpose is to fight for free enterprise and take care of the interests of all its members.
However, Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org, maintains that 55 per cent of the Chamber's funding comes from just 16 companies. This is an incredible statistic and suggests that a small number of businesses have a disproportionate influence on the Chamber.
For many years the US Chamber of Commerce has fought attempts to enforce green legislation. In 2009, several high profile companies, including Apple and Microsoft, quit the Chamber in protest after the Chamber opposed efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. General Electric and Johnson & Johnson also issued statements saying that they disagreed with the Chamber's climate policy.
If even multinational giants like Apple can't change the Chamber's policies on climate change, where does that leave small businesses? Evidently many of them are also unhappy with the Chamber's actions, as several local chambers of commerce have also quit.
The Mountain View Chamber of Commerce stated "As a progressive, I didn't like what the U.S. Chamber was doing with respect to climate legislation". Numerous international companies and small local businesses agree: the U.S. Chamber doesn't speak for them.
Now, 350.org wants you to make your voices heard. If you don't agree with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's stance on climate policies, then shout about it! Make sure the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is fully representative of all three million businesses it is supposed to look out for.