Pfizer and UPS’s victory on climate change

On Dec. 13, Senators Sheldon Whitehouse and Elizabeth Warren singled out Pfizer and UPS in an online op-ed in The Day titled "UPS and Pfizer’s dirty little secret." In the piece, both senators acknowledge UPS and Pfizer’s responsible record on climate change, but still criticized the companies for being associated with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). But their criticisms did not tell the full story.

Both Pfizer and UPS engage in policy discussions with numerous groups and associations across the political spectrum, none of whom we agree with on all issues, but with all of whom we actively engage and educate on our policy positions. An objectionable resolution proposed at ALEC’s recent meeting to reopen the EPA’s 2009 endangerment finding for greenhouse gases was set to come to a vote the day after the senators' opinion piece was published. Both Pfizer and UPS were already working hard to defeat it because it conflicted with our vision of responsible environmental actions and sought to undermine efforts to address the critical issue of climate change. As a result of the engagement of companies such as ours, the resolution was rightfully withdrawn. We are pleased with that outcome.

Pfizer strongly opposed the resolution for a number of reasons, including the unsupported challenge to the underlying science upon which the finding is based. As a science-based company, Pfizer has long recognized the health risks posed by climate change. We are proud of our sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions since 2000, and are working diligently to meet our current, evidence-based, emissions reduction goal. Throughout the entire process, we consistently opposed the resolution, and forcefully made our views known to ALEC staff and board members.

Pfizer firmly believes that we can be more effective in affecting policy on climate change at ALEC by strongly advocating for our principles from within the organization rather than from the outside. We have encouraged both public officials and private sector representatives within ALEC to join us in this fight. By working together with other like-minded entities within ALEC, we have been successful on a number of issues in the past.

Had we not been engaged within ALEC, we would not have had the chance to make our position known and be an agent of change. Operating in a silo and not participating in a constructive debate only encourages the divide that works against advancing good policy positions.

Pfizer is a member of various organizations. Our participation as a member of these groups comes with the understanding that we may not always agree with all the positions of the larger organization or other members. We do believe there is value in making sure our position on issues important to Pfizer and our industry is understood within these organizations. Our engagement with ALEC is no different. We remain committed to raising our voice consistent with our position on climate change.

Ken W. Cole is senior vice president for U.S. government relations for Pfizer. 

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