IBM’s Very Simple Problem
The United States Chamber of Commerce has consistently advocated against the best interests of the American people, serving the profit motives of fossil fuel companies at the expense of the future health of our planet.
But it couldn’t do this alone. The U.S. Chamber gains its lobbying power through the use of ample donations from corporations across country. The Chamber Watch blog series, Chamber Climate Conflicts, surveys how specific corporations’ continued support of the oil and gas lobbying U.S. Chamber of Commerce directly contradicts these companies’ own messaging on the importance of reducing pollution, “going green,” and continued care for the planet.
This Installment: IBM
Continuing our trend of highlighting when corporations’ climate messaging is clearly disconnected from their donation activities, we look no further than the technology company IBM. Founded in 1911, IBM has become a mainstay in American commerce and has been responsible for inventing universally recognizable items like the floppy disk, the UPC barcode, and even automated teller machines (ATMs).
But while these innovations show that IBM’s research and development is seemingly done with an eye to the future, its continued relationship with the oil and gas lobbying U.S. Chamber of Commerce displays not only blatant inconsistencies with the company’s own climate-related messaging, but also a clear lack of foresight.
It’s easy to assess that IBM at least wants us to view it as a company that cares about the future of our climate. On February 17th, IBM made itself known as 1 of the 53 companies to join together on The Climate Pledge, a cross-sector public vow to work together to reduce carbon emissions. And while all members involved in the pledge committed to net-zero carbon emissions by 2040, IBM has recently gone even further by setting the goal of net-zero emissions by 2030. Additionally, past its latest public assertions, IBM has both launched a global research initiative called the Future of Climate and is one of the inaugural members of the MIT Climate and Sustainability Consortium.
IBM’s continued relationship with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is even more discouraging considering just how long IBM’s public facing climate advocacy has been taking place. Just last summer, IBM celebrated the publishing of its 30th annual corporate environmental report, where it joined other posts on its website that pats itself on the back for the company’s 2007 position that climate change is “a serious concern that warrants meaningful action on a global basis” and self-congratulating posts showing its continued support of the Paris Climate Agreement. IBM even produced a video highlighting its 30 years of environmental leadership.
But quick question:
How does donating to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce fit in to being an environmental leader?
We at Chamber Watch have repeatedly covered the levels to which the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has gone to work against the interests of our climate and future generations. Even now the Chamber is hard at work actively fighting to hinder the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) push for disclosure of climate risks. And can someone please tell IBM that donating to an organization that fights to protect environmentally harmful projects like the Keystone XL Pipeline isn’t exactly the company an “environmental leader” should keep?
And while IBM prides itself in excelling at designing tech innovations and building machines to process complex computations it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that continuing to donate to the oil and gas lobbying U.S Chamber of Commerce doesn’t add up.
Sometimes the right answer is the simple one: it’s time for IBM to divide from the Chamber.