The Iowa Business Community: A Wasteland For Climate Denial

Prepared 1/7/2020

Note: The plant sync is headquartered in the State of Iowa, USA.

Climate change is often perceived as a controversial topic that is to be avoided by politicians in rural Iowa. Paradoxically, most of the large agricultural employers who serve and employ rural Iowans have strong statements that both affirm the reality of climate change and list actions in response to the challenge.* Included below are websites and quotes relevant to this point from agricultural and other major employers in Iowa. At a minimum, the positions and actions of major employers in Iowa would be credible, or even persuasive, to at least a subset of skeptical voters and shaky politicians. These positions — from entities generally considered as “conservative” — provide ample and broad support for action on climate change.

*[IMPORTANT: My point in this essay is narrow: that most of the world has moved past outright denial of human-caused climate change. This does not mean the companies I highlight are actually implementing effective solutions. In some cases they engage in outright “greenwashing.”]   

Agricultural companies with impact in Iowa

ConAgra
https://www.conagrabrands.com/our-company/corporate-social-responsibility/environment “Climate change has the potential to fundamentally affect how we source our food. So, our programs to manage energy use and efficiency through the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and sustainable transportation implementation are of the utmost importance. Progress toward these goals is achieved at the operations, management and individual levels.”

Corteva AgriScience
https://www.agri-pulse.com/articles/12646-corteva-ceo-pushing-industry-to-address-climate-change “Corteva CEO pushing industry to address climate change” “The CEO of seed and chemical giant Corteva Agriscience believes farmers must play a major role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and says he’s working with other companies as well as academics and non-governmental organizations to address the climate issue.” 

Nutrien
https://www.nutrien.com/sustainability/priorities/environment
“Our initiatives to help lower GHG and other emissions in our operations focus on:

  • Improving reliability and energy efficiency
  • Implementing carbon capture and storage at our Redwater nitrogen facility
  • Enhancing controls at our nitrogen plants”

    “Greenhouse gas emissions from farming activities can be reduced by using best management practices. Nutrien is a leader in supporting the Nitrous Oxide Emissions Reduction Protocol (NERP) and other technologies that help growers reduce their environmental footprint.”

Syngenta AG
https://www.syngenta.com/who-we-are/our-stories/syngenta-and-climate-change “Our changing climate is hindering farmers’ ability to grow food for a rapidly-increasing population. Changes in temperature and the frequency and severity of droughts and floods can reduce crop yields. Warmer, wetter climates allow weeds, pests and fungi to thrive, threatening yields. Rising CO2 levels reduce the nutritional value of major food crops.”

Bayer Crop Science
https://www.bayer.com/en/response-to-climate-change-straightforward.aspx “Bayer supports the Paris climate accord. This also means that we actively advocate global solutions at the political level that safeguard competition, promote innovation and avoid the shift of production owing to increased costs (carbon leakage). Reducing greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption is certainly not only a cost and competition factor, however. On the contrary, we can only be successful as a company in the long term if we balance our economic growth with our responsibility for the environment and society.”

Cargill
https://www.cargill.com/2019/cargill-expands-climate-change-commitments “Company makes science based commitment to reduce supply chain emissions by 30%; reinforces commitment to goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.”

John Deere
https://www.deere.com/en/our-company/sustainability/environmental-stewardship/ “That’s why we’ve committed to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 15 percent by using 50 percent renewable electricity and upholding an excellence in energy efficiency.”

BASF
https://www.basf.com/us/en/who-we-are/sustainability/environment/energy-and-climate-protection.html “Anthropogenic climate change is one of the main challenges society is facing. Business, science, politics and society need to combine forces in tackling climate change and using resources more efficiently. BASF is committed to economically efficient and ecologically effective global climate protection and supports the UN Sustainable Development Goal “Climate Action.” Energy efficiency is the key to combining climate protection, conservation of resources and economic advantages.”

CNH Industrial https://www.cnhindustrial.com/enus/sustainability/local_communities/Pages/Project-to-combat-climate-change.aspx “At CNH Industrial, a key priority is to combat​climate change, a global challenge aligned with SDG 13 ‘Climate action’ whose negative impact on ecosystems affects the quality of life of people in local communities, as well as consumer choices.”

Other impactful employers in Iowa

Principal Financial Group
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-09-12/banks-are-finally-starting-to-account-for-climate-change-risk “Beyond the challenge of tallying emissions, there’s the much more daunting task of ­cutting them. About 45 financial institutions globally, including the U.K.’s HSBC Holdings Inc. and France’s Société Générale SA, have committed to taking part in the Science Based Targets Initiative, a voluntary effort that sets reduction targets. Only four U.S. companies have made the commitment: insurer MetLife, asset manager Principal Financial Group, Hannon Armstrong, an investor in clean energy projects, and FullCycle Energy, a private equity firm.” Also https://www.principalglobal.com/documentdownload/106697

Wells Fargo
https://www.wellsfargo.com/about/corporate-responsibility/environment/climate-change-statement/ “Wells Fargo recognizes the growing concerns related to climate change.” “We join with the growing number of businesses, customers, and communities in expressing our view that we all need to do our part to find solutions to the climate challenge.” “Climate change represents one of the greatest challenges of our time, but it also represents a tremendous opportunity — to work together to help our customers, communities, and business thrive.”

WellMark
https://www.wellmark.com/blue/healthy-living/clearing-the-air “Climate change is causing allergy season to last longer. 
FACT. “The growing and pollinating season is longer because of climate change,” says Muller,” That translates to a longer allergy season. Climate change may also worsen air pollution, causing more asthma attacks.”
What’s more, plants grow faster and produce more pollen in warmer temperatures. According to a study by the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, pollen counts could double by 2040”’  

Firestone 
https://www.bridgestoneamericas.com/en/corporate-social-responsibility/environment-and-sustainability/reduce-co2-emissions “We recognize that climate change is a real and significant risk to the natural resources we utilize to run our business, as well as to our world’s economic well-being.”