G8 Leaders And Climate Change

Some 100 CEOs of global companies representing all sectors and regions have endorsed a detailed statement urging G8 leaders to adopt an "environmentally effective and economically efficient framework" to succeed the Kyoto Protocol in 2012. Delivered to Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda of Japan, who is hosting the annual G8 summit in July, the recommendations urge the adoption of a rapid and fundamental strategy by governments to bring about a low-carbon world economy.

A multi-industry, cross-regional steering committee that included WBCSD members Alcoa, Duke Energy, EDF, Eskom, Petrobras, Shell, TEPCO, TNT and Vattenfall, developed the recommendations in cooperation with the WBCSD, the World Economic Forum and The Pew Center for Global Climate Change."Tackling climate change requires an integrated approach that addresses the issues of competitiveness and economic sustainability, energy security, the environment and development, as well as adaptive capacity for inevitable climate impacts," said WBCSD President Bjorn Stigson in an open letter to G8 leaders last month. (a pdf file)

"Governments must give clarity in the short-term in defining the policy framework post-2012. However, governments need to also build the future policy frameworks — the frameworks that give business an idea of where you are going long-term as this is necessary for the signals it will send to the markets and will provide business with the certainty it needs to scale up global investment in low-carbon technologies. Governments must abandon the "you first" mentality. We need leadership and action by both governments and business," he continued.

In their recommendations, the CEOs:

• Urge the adoption of a rapid and fundamental strategy by governments to bring about a low-carbon world economy;

• Call on the G8 and other developed country governments to provide leadership through deep absolute cuts in their greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), as well as direct work with the international business community to develop a pragmatic strategy of cost-effective, medium-term carbon abatement opportunities;

• Suggest efforts aimed at speeding the development and diffusion of low-carbon technologies, mobilizing financial support to help developing countries adopt such technologies, spurring changes in consumer purchasing behavior, and establishing common metrics to create a positive dynamic of improved corporate benchmarking, disclosure and investment decision-making with respect to greenhouse gas mitigation; and,

• Urge adoption of both a long-term goal and a series of clear intermediate targets to be achieved in the most cost-effective manner possible through the use of market mechanisms that create clear economic value from emission reductions, including a deep and liquid international market for carbon.

The scope of the companies that have come together to make these recommendations is uncommon. They come developed and developing countries, ranging from Australia to Brazil and Canada, China, South Africa and from the US and to European and Middle Eastern nations. The group also encompasses virtually every industry sector.

This opening of dialog with governments is not simply a tactic to deflect pressures like regulation. WBCSD members do not believe that business is best left alone by government, but rather that the establishment of the right framework conditions for carbon emissions and putting a price on the goods that society values, including carbon emissions, are the right steps towards a truly sustainable society.