Global business leaders commit to a low-carbon future
Mexico City, 5 October, 2010 - Business leaders from major global corporations have committed to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions across a wide range of sectors, including energy, communications, building and construction. The announcement was made at the conclusion of the UN-supported Business for the Environment (B4E) Summit, held in Mexico City from 4 to 5 October, ahead of the UN Climate Conference in Cancun next month.
Energy companies present agreed to work towards achieving a target of 100% renewable energy production by 2050. ICT companies agreed to reduce 7.6 Gigatons of CO2 emissions by 2020, while representatives of the building sector committed to reduce emissions by 40% in new buildings by 2020 and improve energy efficiency by up to 40% in existing buildings.
Business leaders called upon governments to advance international negotiations to ensure an ambitious outcome at the Cancun Climate talks (16th Conference of the Parties) which are being organised by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change later this year. Those gathered in Mexico City also stressed the need for a global 'level playing field' that would enable these commitments and foster green entrepreneurship among and across industry sectors.
Companies acknowledged that entrepreneurial action to address climate change can play a critical role in stimulating a global economic recovery, creating new jobs and building more sustainable and resilient low-carbon societies.
UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said, "Many businesses, including those at the B4E Summit, are signaling leadership and seizing the opportunities of the climate change challenge. Why? Because many see rising risks to profits from the impacts of rising greenhouse gases but also an opportunity to become far more resource efficient and innovative enterprises. Governments at the UN climate convention meeting in Cancun and beyond have a responsibility to support these aims and actions by signaling their determination to set the kinds of national and global policy frameworks able to accelerate and sustain these transformations."
"Civil society and business can both take a role in speaking-up so that the right policy-frameworks are put in place as well as in communicating the solutions which are already available", said James Leape, Director General of WWF-International. "We should all recognize that international negotiations on climate are not moving at the pace needed. This business summit, held immediately before Cancun, should stimulate all governments to act in order to unleash business potential to transform our economies", he added.
"While governments hold the key to setting the right signals and incentives, it is business that provides the solutions we need," said Georg Kell, Executive Director of the UN Global Compact. "Now is the time to support the many efforts that already exist, to ensure that low-carbon innovation is shared widely and to mobilize those still sitting on the fence. We cannot afford to wait any longer."
In their declaration at B4E, business leaders agreed that in order to avoid a major climate crisis - that comprises economic, political, health, environment, safety and other dimensions - the creation of global policy and strong national legal frameworks is needed.
"We all now recognize the huge problems that climate change is posing for our societies. We should now step up, lead and be part of the tidal wave of companies that bring the solutions our societies need," said Barbara Kux, Chief of Sustainability of Siemens.
Companies also recognized their role in changing behaviour and values for a more equitable future. "We recognize the role that big corporations have in changing supply chains so that small and medium enterprises can fully participate in the Green Economy," said José Luis Prado, President of Gamesa.
"We recognize the possibility we have in changing behaviors, starting from our companies. We can walk the talk and enlist the hundreds and thousands of employees that work for our companies as solution providers," said Magnus Kuschel, Managing Director of Commute Greener of the Volvo Group.
According to the companies at B4E, countries should put in place national policy instruments including: i) financial mechanisms to offset initial costs and reallocate total costs along the life cycle of buildings, ii) the phasing-out of fossil fuel subsidies, iii) soft-loans on climate solutions, iv) smart-grids, feed-in tariffs and buy-downs in energy that send the right signals to the marketplace.
In his keynote speech, former US Vice-President and Nobel Peace Prize Winner Al Gore said: "We need the good companies to put pressure on all governments to lead by example and step up their domestic and global commitments."
The Mexican Minister of Environment Juan Rafael Elvira Quesada said: "The private sector has much to offer in the global fight on climate change. We do not want that the conclusions and recommendations of this event remain in a drawer. We want to take them to Cancun, to enrich the negotiations."
Next month, the world's governments will gather in Cancun, Mexico, for the UN Climate Conference. A key focus of the conference will be how a transition towards a Green Economy model can both reduce worldwide carbon dioxide emissions and bring economic benefits.
The message from business leaders at B4E demonstrates that many companies are already addressing today's climate challenges by transforming the way they operate and achieving benefits both for the environment and for their own companies. The statement calls for governments to follow suit by promoting the Green Economy model and creating a path towards a low-carbon future.
About the Event
The event was hosted by the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Mexican Ministry of Environment, the Mexican Ministry of Energy, United Nations Global Compact, Global Initiatives, UNEP with support from WWF.
Company participants included Walmart, The Coca-Cola Company, Grupo Bimbo, PepsiCo, Hewlett Packard, AP Moeller Maersk, Cemex, Tata and Sons, Acciona, Siemens, Nestle, McKinsey, Volvo Group, British Telecom Group, amongst other.
Speakers included Al Gore, the former US Vice President and global advocate for climate action, Barbara Kux, Chief Sustainability Officer at Siemens AG; Claus Conzelmann, Vice President, Head of Health, Security & Sustentability, Nestlé; Daniel Servitje, Chief Executive Officer, Grupo Bimbo; Brent Constantz, CEO for Calera; Antonio Noyola, Director Energy and Planning from CEMEX; John Kornerup Bang, Director Corporate Sustainability at AP Moeller Maersk; George Kell, Executive Director of the UN Global Compact; Juan Rafael Elvira Quesada, Secretary of Environment of Mexico and James Leape, Director-General and CEO of WWF International.
B4E is the main conference on Global Business Dialogue and action on the environment and is intended to shape proposals on climate change by the global business community. For more information see: www.b4esummit.com/
The business summit is jointly organized by Global Initiatives, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the United Nations Global Compact.
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