Minnesota companies still give to climate change doubters

Several Minneapolis-area companies that have promised to make changes to protect the environment still contribute to politicians who say climate change is a hoax or exaggerated.

MPR News (http://bit.ly/2dOP45g ) reported that Target, Best Buy, General Mills and Cargill signed on to the Obama Administration's American Business Act on Climate Pledge last year, promising to make significant emissions, water use and waste generation reductions.

Together, the companies' contributions to politicians who fight efforts to counter climate change equal about $300,000.

For example, the General Mills Political Action Committee reported that through September it gave $100,000 to candidates who reject mainstream climate science.

General Mills officials said its political action committee is directed by employees, not the company, and that most candidates get support because they represent places where its employees live and work.

While other companies such as Best Buy put their public advocacy on issues that directly affect the company.

"Our nonpartisan political action committee seeks to support candidates who consider the full range of issues that affect our business and are in a position to implement change," said Jeffrey Shelman, a spokesman for the company. "That said our environmental track record is extremely strong. We are well on our way to reducing our carbon emissions by 45 percent by 2020.... And we have diverted more than one billion pounds of e-waste from landfills."

Target also said the company is currently working on eight innovative ways to operate more efficiently and responsibly while using fewer resources. This plan will include solar rooftop panels installed to hundreds of stores.

Emily Southard, campaign director at ClimateTruth.org, said global warming should be a factor for companies who make political contributions

"Businesses can only prosper in a safe climate. Scientists tell us that without dramatic action to reduce pollution, our world is in serious danger. And supporting politicians who obstruct action is both a moral failing and bad business," Southard said.

While Matto Mildenberger, a University of California Santa Barbara political scientist, argued that his findings show that companies don't focus on just one issue.

"We see this over and over again. Businesses might prefer climate policy but they have other policies that they care lot more about ... tax policy, regulatory policy," Mildenberger said.


Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, http://www.mprnews.org