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The world just had its hottest day on record. Here's what you can do about it.

· By The UNFK Team

The world just had its hottest day in recorded history due to a combination of the El Niño weather event and ongoing carbon dioxide emissions. As climate change accelerates, it can feel overwhelming. It can feel as if there’s nothing that we, as individuals, can do about it. 

The irony of this feeling is that fossil fuel companies spent millions to promote the idea of individual responsibility. The largely false notion of plastic recycling, for instance, has helped the fossil fuel industry avoid single use plastic bans for decades. (Most plastic is made from fossils.) Starting in the 1970’s ExxonMobil cast doubt on the science of climate change, but then later shifted to misleading the public into thinking that individual actions are the best way to address it.

Now, as periods of extreme heat and smoky skies become more prolonged all over the world, the undeniable hugeness of climate change is becoming more apparent. The futility of a carpool or a canvas tote bag to address record-shattering heatwaves and wildfire seasons feels more glaringly obvious. The need to shift to a post-carbon economy feels more urgent. 

So, what, if anything can individuals do? A lot of people believe that change comes from the top down—handed from government and other powerful institutions down to the people—but in reality, it’s actually the opposite. A surprising number of people in power take their cues from what’s already happening in business, culture, and local communities. 

This is why it matters so much when even one large company makes a meaningful change related to climate, even one innovative new state-level climate bill gets passed, or a small group of young people stands up to the massive fossil fuel industry.  

That’s why, as individuals, the most powerful and important thing we can do to fight climate change is to demand that those with true institutional power address the problem. Here are some ideas for doing that: 

  • Figure out who represents you at the federal, state, and local levels and tell them you want more regulation of the fossil fuel industry and other high emission industries as well as more support for the transition to the post carbon economy

  • With the first ever attempt to track nations’ progress on the Paris Agreement goals happening at the end of 2023, it’s also the perfect time to make demands of world leaders. Make it clear that they have your support to expand their climate commitments

  • Use the UNFK database to reach out to big powerful companies and demand to know why so many of them—especially those are known for their ambitious environmental initiatives like Microsoft and Google—still belong to industry trade groups that aggressively lobby Congress against strong environmental policies. 

When individual people make it clear to those with institutional power that the status quo is no longer acceptable, that’s when real change starts to happen.

One simple but powerful thing you can do to fight climate change and the smoky air that comes with it

· By The UNFK Team

As wildfire smoke chokes the air in large portions of Canada and the Eastern U.S., you might be asking whether or not there’s anything you can really do about it. 

Yes, there absolutely is. 

When we at UNFK compiled all the environmental information on big companies for the UNFK database, a clear pattern emerged. We saw that many companies in the database were being profoundly hypocritical, especially those like Google and Microsoft that are known for their ambitious environmental initiatives.

Microsoft, Google, and hundreds of other powerful U.S. companies belong to an industry trade group called the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that aggressively lobbies Congress and other institutions against strong environmental policies. 

That means that companies like Microsoft and Google can talk a lot about how environmentally minded they are while their trade group pressures politicians and other gatekeepers to vote against strong environmental protections. They're outsourcing their dirty work, in other words.

The folks at Harvard Law noticed the same hypocrisy. They said, “[M]any of the companies that support ambitious climate policies neglect to hold their trade associations accountable for their obstructive lobbying on climate issues, in direct contradiction of their own climate targets and advocacy efforts.”

What that means is that even as steadily rising temperatures dry out the Earth’s forests and wildfire duration and intensity increase as a result, the leaders of some of the most powerful companies in the world are choosing to remain a part an organization that is blocking the exact laws we need to fight climate change and have clean, breathable air. In fact, policy experts say the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s activities directly mirror the lobbying of fossil fuel interest groups

Companies respond to public pressure. So, one simple but incredibly powerful thing you can do is to demand that these companies leave the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. 

Here are ten companies and their PR contacts to start with: 

When you contact these companies, here’s an example of something you can say: 

“Hi there. The smoky air being caused by the wildfires in Canada right now is prompting me to reach out to (Company Name) to do more to fight climate change. For instance, I notice that (Company Name) chooses to remain a part of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, an organization with a history of fighting strong environmental policy. I urge (Company Name) to quit the Chamber today and clear the path for the kind of laws we need to have clean, breathable air. Will (Company Name) leave the Chamber today?” 

If you’d like to see which other companies in our database are members of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, visit our full database. Click on the name of any company there to see that company's known affiliations with anti-environment trade groups. 

Uber is irritated that UNFK is highlighting its executives’ political contributions to climate deniers

· By The UNFK Team

In our recent communications with Uber about its environmental track record, we were contacted by email by company spokesperson Brooke Anderson who said it’s “odd and not really useful” that United for Kindness (UNFK) publishes Uber executives’ individual contributions to the U.S. Congresspeople with the worst environmental track records. 

You can see the information on which Uber was commenting at the bottom of its UNFK page

Political contributions by Uber executives include a bit of cash for far right politician Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, who claims global warming is “healthy” and Senator Rand Paul, who in a 2017 CNN interview questioned the human role in climate change. Scientists widely agree that climate change is being caused primarily by humans.

Of course, such contribution information has been publicly available for many years through Open Secrets and the Federal Election Commission. To our knowledge, however, the UNFK database is the first to cross reference that data with the League of Conservation Voters scorecard. The scorecard rates the environmental voting track record of each member of the U.S. House and U.S. Senate. 

When the employee of a company like Uber individually gives money to the election fund of a U.S. Congressperson with a lifetime League of Conservation Voters score of 20 or below (out of 100), UNFK includes that information on the company’s page. 

Why? UNFK lists both individual and PAC contributions to help members of the public make informed decisions about where to spend their hard earned money. Note: while a company’s corporate PAC giving to Congresspeople with low LCV scores does negatively impact the company’s UNFK score, individual contributions do not.

Uber tries to distance itself from the anti-environmental lobbying group to which it definitely still belongs

· By The UNFK Team

Recently, we asked transportation company Uber if it remains affiliated with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a controversial Washington D.C. lobbying group with a long history of vigorously opposing climate action

An emailed response from company spokesperson Brooke Anderson stated, “Uber has been a member of the Chamber's tech committee but to be clear that doesn't mean we agree with all their projects or priorities.”

The U.S. transportation sector is the largest domestic contributor to climate change per the U.S. Department of Transportation. 

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is currently fighting a new regulation that would require all big companies to disclose their carbon emissions. 

In 2009, Apple and several other large companies quit the U.S. Chamber of Commerce over its climate policies.

AT&T’s top lobbyist exits board of controversial anti-environmental group

· By The UNFK Team

When we reach out to large companies, we often ask them if they are affiliated with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a Washington D.C. based lobbying group with a long track record of fighting strong environmental policies

Recently we asked AT&T if it remains affiliated with the Chamber. We noted in our inquiry that one of its senior executives, AT&T Senior Executive Vice President Ed Gillespie, was still listed on the Chamber’s site as serving on its board of directors. 

An AT&T spokesperson, Jeannette Castaneda, responded that the company needed time to “gather updates.” A day later, the company reached out again by email to state that Gillespie is no longer on the Chamber’s board. 

No additional information was provided regarding Gillespie’s date of departure or his reason for leaving. 

It would appear that AT&T, however, remains a member of the Chamber. Castaneda said AT&T is, “part of the internal working group that has helped moderate and modernize the chamber’s POV on climate.” 

In 2009, Apple and several other large companies quit the U.S. Chamber of Commerce over its climate policies.