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BICEP Climate Policy Coalition Flexes Muscle With Addition of Symantec, eBay, Gap

bicep-logoA four-month-old coalition of mega corporations calling for policies to spur clean energy development and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. by the end of the year has just added three more heavyweights to its ranks: Gap (s GPS), eBay (s EBAY) and Symantec (s SYMC).

Ceres, a network of investors, businesses, environmental organizations and public interest groups that’s been around for two decades, is largely responsible for organizing the so-called Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy, or BICEP group. Ceres announced the new members this morning at a panel with existing members Levi Strauss & Co., Nike, Sun Microsystems, Starbucks and Timberland.

BICEP has made a point of contrasting itself with the U.S. Climate Action Partnership — an older and larger coalition of businesses, including the Big Three automakers, General Electric (s GE), PG&E (s PCG), Shell (s RDS) and ConocoPhillips (s COP), and environmental groups including Environmental Defense Fund and the Natural Resources Defense Council. Differences between the two groups — one that includes some of the largest greenhouse gas emitters (the energy companies and industrial giants in the Climate Action Partnership), and another that embraces less carbon-intensive industries — highlights a line in the sand between influential corporate players in the U.S. economy. Both groups will be trying to win over lawmakers in the coming months as they hash out climate and energy legislation.

Whereas the Climate Action Partnership wants to a cap-and-trade system in which emission allowances are initially awarded without cost to polluters, the BICEP group advocates auctioning off 100 percent of allowances. BICEP also supports a mandate that all new coal-fired power plants use carbon capture and storage technology (so far unproven at commercial scale). The Climate Action Partnership doesn’t take as much of a hard line, supporting deployment of carbon capture technology but not calling for an all-out mandate.

When it comes to emission reduction targets, eBay and Symantec’s new cohorts are more ambitious than the older coalition. Whereas the Partnership uses 2005 emission levels as a baseline, BICEP supports reductions of at least 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, and 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.