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America’s business lobby shifting on climate change

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is subtly shifting its position on climate change and growing vocal about the need to address it.

Driving the news: The chamber recently updated its website with new language, including a statement stronger than anything the group has said before: “Inaction is not an option.” The group last week also released what it dubbed an energy and climate agenda, focused on clean-energy innovation.

Why it matters: As America's biggest trade group representing business, the Chamber of Commerce gives voice to the common denominator position on a host of issues, including climate change. Official statements like this hold more weight.

What they’re saying: “Companies of all sizes and in every industry are paying ever more attention to climate change and are seeking sensible solutions,” a chamber spokesman said.

But, but, but: It's unclear whether this shift changes its long-held opposition to most regulations, which have been the main avenue of federal climate policy to date. The chamber has actively fought climate regulations issued by former President Obama and supported Trump's regulatory rollbacks.

Flashback: A decade ago a top official, who has since retired, said the group wanted to put climate-change science on trial — similar to what President Trump is considering today. (The group’s official position at the time was more in line with mainstream science, however.)

Where it stands: The main thrust of last week’s announcement was a new poll, and the group doesn’t appear to be supporting any new policies, instead becoming more vocal on issues it already backs.

  • This includes energy efficiency, nuclear power and technology capturing carbon emissions.
  • The group doesn't have positions on more controversial and sweeping policies, like carbon taxes or the Paris Climate Agreement.
  • The chamber does support amending a lower-profile environmental treaty reducing emissions from greenhouse gases emitted from appliances.

Go deeper: Trump clashes with business on Obama-era climate treaty