Your hemp shoes won't save you.
Kicks on Fire
Your hemp shoes won’t save you.

The oil industry isn’t the only business flexing its muscle in Washington. The Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy coalition, aka BICEP, today released a “Climate Declaration” urging Congress to do some heavy lifting on climate change and “asserting that a bold response to the climate challenge is one of the greatest American economic opportunities of the 21st century.” Signatories include Nike, Starbucks, eBay, and 30 other companies, with a combined annual revenue of about $450 billion.

“The signers of the Climate Declaration have a clear message for Washington: Act on climate change. We are, and it’s good for our businesses,” Anne Kelly, director of BICEP, said in a statement.

From the statement: “The signatories of the Climate Declaration are calling for Congress to address climate change by promoting clean energy, boosting efficiency and limiting carbon emissions — strategies that these businesses already employ within their own operations.”

Though the clean coalition’s efforts are aimed at policymakers, its business is really aimed at the rest of us. And that’s where this effort starts to feel a bit self-serving.

These companies may be lobbying for some decent federal energy policies, but they’re still in the business of pushing jeans (Levi Strauss) and pressboard furniture (IKEA). They might be sad about climate change — we can all agree on the sad part, right? — but they make it clear that this is really about their bottom line. Eileen Fisher is upset that the drought is cutting into its cotton supply, not that it might be encouraging people to buy clothes they don’t really need.

For these companies the bottom line is consumerism. No matter how you spin it, that’s not sustainable for the planet. And even if they’re promoting some policies that we like, do we want to rely on L’Oreal and company to be our advocates in Washington? I’m not buying it. But hey, maybe President Obama will.