Some PA businesses see dealing with climate change as an opportunity

A new analysis of the business response to climate change in nine states including Pennsylvania found that many companies see the risks of climate change as a business opportunity.

"Managing global warming impacts delivers [a] competitive advantage to U.S. companies," said a statement by Tom Carnac, president of CDP in North America. The group, formerly known as the Carbon Disclosure Project, released the report following its annual climate change questionnaire to public companies in the U.S.

The report comes on the heels of the Obama administration’s proposal to cut carbon pollution from the nation’s power plants.

The report examines the business response to climate change from 172 S&P 500 companies in California, Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia.

The 11 companies surveyed in Pennsylvania included industries representing energy, materials, information and industrials. Among them were CONSOL Energy, United States Steel Corp., PNC Financial Services and VWR International.

From the CDP report:

[Pennsylvania companies] are recasting their relationship with traditional fuel and energy sources and helping consumers do the same through low carbon product lines.

Companies are investing in projects that reduce reliance on the electricity grid, such as improving energy efficiency of buildings and changing production processes.

Further, from building products to industrial processes to financial services, Pennsylvania companies are seizing the competitive advantages available by acting early in the transition to a low-carbon economy.

Between 2003 and 2013, Pennsylvania and surrounding states shared $155 billion in estimated costs for 15 separate billion-dollar weather and climate disasters — including $65.7 billion in cleanup costs from Hurricane Sandy, according to the report.

"We are moving from a world that's projecting future climate risks to one that's experiencing those risks now,” Carnac said.

According to the analysis, 73 percent of the Pennsylvania companies studied said they already produce goods and services that reduce carbon pollution.

The Radnor, Pa.-based VWR International, which distributes laboratory research products, said it’s making corn-resin products packaged in 100 percent recycled fibers. United States Steel Corporation said it’s creating high-strength steel products for automobiles to meet fuel-efficiency standards.

CONSOL said its production of natural gas is benefitting the climate and that new caps for carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants creates opportunity for the company and its shareholders.

According to the CDP analysis, 91 percent of the companies said climate regulation presents a business opportunity, 60 percent said regulation could increase demand for new or existing products or services and 30 percent said regulation could reduce operating costs.

Reach Natasha Khan at 412-315-0261 or at nkhan@publicsource.org.