WASHINGTON, D.C. - Leaders of 150 global companies today called on world leaders to agree on a comprehensive, legally binding United Nations framework to tackle climate change during negotiations that begin next week during the Conference of the Parties in Bali, Indonesia.
The communiqué was signed by representatives from some of the world's most respected companies and represents an unprecedented coming together of the international business community from across the globe. The effort was led by The Prince of Wales's UK and EU Corporate Leaders Groups on Climate Change and supported by World Wildlife Fund.
In the communiqué, the leaders agreed that the "scientific evidence" of climate change is now "overwhelming" and "presents very serious global social, environmental and economic risks and it demands an urgent global response." "As business leaders, it is our belief that the benefits of strong, early action on climate change outweigh the costs of not acting."
Companies in support of the communiqué included WWF Climate Savers members Johnson and Johnson, Nike, Novo Nordisk, Sony and Tetra Pak, as well as AIG, Allianz, Coca-Cola, Hewlett-Packard, HSBC, Nokia, and Pacific Gas and Electric. World Wildlife Fund President and CEO Carter S. Roberts welcomed the support of WWF's business partners for this important initiative.
"Global warming is the greatest environmental threat facing the world today and inaction carries a price tag none of us can afford," Roberts said. "Changing the outcome requires us to change the way we produce and consume electricity and other goods. But the development of efficient technologies also creates new business opportunities. As demonstrated by the signatories to the Bali communiqué, leading companies are making climate change a top priority. Now is the time for world leaders to act. WWF Climate Savers companies are an elite group that are stepping up to the plate and are part of the solution."
"Tackling climate change is a catalyst for growth and innovation in our company," said Nike Inc. President and CEO Mark Parker. "These are complex issues, which is why international agreement and action is imperative to creating positive change. We're pleased to be part of a global group of companies who recognize the urgency and importance of creating a low carbon economy."
"The time to act on climate change is now, for all of us: governments, companies, citizens and all of society," said Coca-Cola Company Chairman and CEO E. Neville Isdell. "The challenge of climate protection is bigger than any one person, company, NGO or country. What's required is a common and interlocking commitment, incorporating all the elements of society, within a global policy framework. We trust that world leaders will seize the opportunity to build on this framework next month in Bali."
Noting that the costs of action are "manageable," the business leaders confirmed their belief that each year of delay in tackling the issue in a comprehensive way will result in greater disruption. The leaders were also united in their belief that the "shift to a low-carbon economy will create significant business opportunities."
"A sufficiently ambitious, international and comprehensive legally-binding United Nations agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will provide business with the certainty it needs to scale up global investment in low-carbon technologies," according to the statement.
This comes at a time when there is still some debate in the international community as to whether a mandatory or voluntary approach to emission reductions will be more effective.
Even more significantly, they said "overall targets for emissions reduction must be guided primarily by science." Until now, some in the business community had argued that competitiveness and cost issues should be the principal drivers of emission cuts. The leaders note that evidence from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) already points to a reduction being required of "at least 50% by 2050" and said the "greatest effort" will need to be made by those countries that have already industrialized.
During Bali, the companies urged world leaders to "seize this window of opportunity" and set a "work-plan of comprehensive negotiations" to ensure an agreement can come into force post-2012, when the existing Kyoto Protocol expires.
The Bali Communiqué has today been sent to the 130 Environment Ministers attending the conference and to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon who will be attending the conference in its second week.
The UN Climate Change Conference 2007 in Bali will start on Monday, December 3 and close on Friday, December 14, 2007. The Conference will be presided over by Indonesian Environment Minister Rachmat Witoelar, with support from the UN's Climate Change Secretariat headed by Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer. The first week will involve negotiations among the Parties at the level of high-ranking government officials on a range of issues. On Wednesday, 12 December, the high-level segment will start with addresses by the UN Secretary-General and the President of Indonesia. It is expected to be attended by 130 Environment Ministers. More information is available at: unfccc.int/.
The Bali Communiqué and a full list of signatories is available at: www.balicommunique.com.
The Prince of Wale's UK and EU Corporate Leaders Groups have been developed by The University of Cambridge Programme for Industry. More information on the groups is available at: www.cpi.cam.ac.uk/bep/clgcc.