Virginia Small Business Owners Call for Climate Action

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Sarah Bucci

Event at Local Coffee Shop Highlights Climate Change Impacts on Cup o’ Joe

Environment Virginia

Richmond, VA – At an afternoon event at Crossroads Coffee in Richmond, local business owners joined together to release a new letter urging Congress to support policies that limit carbon pollution and support energy efficiency.

At Crossroads Coffee and Ice Cream, the impacts of climate change could hit close to home for customers who enjoy an early morning roast. Climate change impacts coffee growers in virtually every major coffee producing region in the world. As noted by the Union of Concerned Scientists, “higher temperatures, long droughts punctuated by intense rainfall, more resilient pests and plant diseases—all of which are associated with climate change—have reduced coffee supplies dramatically in recent years.”

For example, Coffea arabica, originating in major coffee producing nation of Ethiopia, is at risk. Wild Coffea arabica, known commonly as Arabica coffee, could be extinct within 70 years because of climate change. Wild Arabica is important to the coffee industry to maintain genetic diversity, and Arabica coffee makes up 75 – 80 percent of the world’s coffee production. The overall reduction in coffee supplies could spell higher prices for java enthusiasts.

But at Crossroads, it’s not just the risks climate change poses to coffee production that concern owner Will Herring.

“Obviously, we at Crossroads care about the cost of coffee, but we care more about our community,” said Herring. “Hotter summers mean higher electric bills, which impact not just our bottom line, but our neighbors too. The way I see it, addressing climate change is good for Richmond and good for business.”

And small businesses across Virginia agree. In fact, eighty small businesses in Virginia, from local coffee shops to clean energy installers, have added their name to this letter in support of clean energy and climate action.

“Small business owners understand the nexus between protecting public health and growing the economy. We believe sensible clean air standards will spark innovation and drive long-term growth while curbing climate change. We urge you to support small businesses and find real clean energy solutions that will create long-term economic growth and ignite a new era of American innovation,” the letter, addressed to lawmakers, stated.

“As a farmer, I can control how I manage my land, how hard I work, and to a great extent what crops I grow,” said David Hunsaker, local business owner from Village Garden Farms. “I can’t control the weather or the climate.  So of course, addressing man-made climate change is very important to me.”

Nationally, the letter, released by the Small Business Majority, was signed by nearly 500 entrepreneurs from Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia.

This summer, President Obama directed his Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to propose limits on carbon pollution from new and existing power plants, the largest single source of carbon pollution. In a major step, the EPA is expected to propose an updated rule for cutting carbon pollution from new power plants on September 20.

The letter stated that small business owners support EPA standards limiting carbon emissions from power plants and believe clean energy standards are good for their businesses and the economy. The letter also asked lawmakers to help create opportunities and financial incentives for small businesses to implement cost-saving energy efficiency measures.

“Virginia can’t afford to wait to act on climate. These new EPA standards will mean more renewable energy, more energy efficiency, and less global warming pollution,” said Sarah Bucci, campaign director with Environment Virginia. “It’s time to spur American ingenuity and cut the carbon pollution fueling global warming. The EPA should finalize strong standards to limit carbon pollution from new and existing power plants and we urge Virginia’s leaders to step up and support climate action now.”

Small Business Majority’s scientific opinion polling found small businesses support strong carbon pollution standards limiting emissions of industrial carbon pollution from power plants. In fact, polling found more than half of all small businesses support the EPA regulating carbon emissions from existing power plants, and 76 percent of small business owners are in favor of requiring new power plants to reduce carbon emissions.

“Small business owners believe these standards are important because they will help drive innovation and investment in energy efficiency and are a key component to progressing toward a clean energy economy and to creating jobs,” said John Arensmeyer, Founder & CEO of Small Business Majority. “Strong clean energy standards that limit carbon pollution from new and existing power plants can help businesses save money through new technologies and efficiencies.”


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