Cap and Trade good for Oregon, its businesses
Many Oregon companies and investors are already paving the way toward a clean energy economy through major investments in sustainability.
As an investment firm, we believe that continuing to promote clean energy and driving innovative climate solutions is good for Oregon's economy, its businesses and its residents. The private sector is leading, but it's not enough to mitigate the risk and achieve the state's greenhouse gas reduction goals. Fortunately, after a decade of considering a statewide carbon pricing policy, Oregon lawmakers are ready to move forward with a market-based Cap and Trade program. As markets increasingly make it clear, reducing climate pollution is good for business and the environment. We need the legislature to pass a well-crafted, statewide Cap and Trade policy in 2019.
Just as consumer preferences are shifting in favor of companies that make sustainable products, investors too understand that responsible business practices also make sound investments — including companies proactively addressing climate change. Companies and their investors also recognize that climate change poses significant risks to infrastructure, supply chains, employees and customers. For example, we invest in companies like Nike that have set a goal to use 100 percent renewable energy in owned and operated facilities globally by 2025.
That's why Trillium joined Oregon Business for Climate, a nonpartisan organization with 90 other business members (and growing) across the state. Together, we're mobilizing industry support and business leadership to advance climate policy and institute a price on carbon emissions while strengthening the economy.
We applaud key lawmakers for their bold leadership and commitment to establishing a statewide carbon pricing mechanism now. And we urge business leaders to continue voicing support for the passage of Cap and Trade legislation in 2019 that would link Oregon to existing markets as part of the Western Climate Initiative's North American Carbon Market. A price on carbon, together with other programs and policies already in place such as Oregon's Clean Fuels Program and Coal to Clean Energy among others, is key to further facilitating corporate adoption of renewable energy and clean technology investments.
We find the Cap and Trade approach provides the lowest cost and most scalable solution to reducing Oregon's greenhouse gas emissions. This market-based program allows polluters to meet their emission reduction requirements and meet Oregon's climate goals while reinvesting into the state's economy. Currently, nine states in the Northeast U.S. Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) and California have such policies in place. Implementing a Cap and Trade system will also help make Oregon a desirable place to do business, improve public health and strengthen the economy. We hold investments across every economic sector and see the value of sound climate policies in helping companies and investors grow profits, save money and mitigate the risks posed by climate change. Finally, the financial consequences of inaction on climate are astounding. As reported in Bloomberg, scientists convened by the United Nations now say the world "must invest $2.4 trillion in clean energy every year through 2035 and cut the use of coal-fired power to almost nothing by 2050 to avoid catastrophic damage from climate change." And a 2015 Citibank report estimated that global GDP lost to climate change may reach $44 trillion by 2060.
Our goal as institutional investors is to deliver appropriate long-term, risk-adjusted returns to our clients. To do so we must address the challenges and opportunities of climate change. As members of the Oregon Legislature discuss the merits of combating climate disruption, we ask that our legislative leaders consider the perspectives of investors and businesses as well as its many other important stakeholder groups. It is time for Oregon lawmakers to continue leading on climate change legislation, invest in a low carbon economy and create policy certainty for companies and investors working to achieve their own clean energy goals. We know that addressing climate change is one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century, but it also presents a significant economic opportunity by combining responsible policy with business innovation.
Brianna Murphy is a vice president
and member of Shareholder Advocacy
at Trillium Asset Management, located
in Portland. You can reach her at