Businesses mobilize for action on climate change

An international mix of businesses and non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) are joining forces to promote global action on climate change. This activism is of more critical importance in light of the recent report by the leading international network of climate scientists that has concluded for the first time that global warming is “unequivocal” and that human activity is the main driver, “very likely” causing most of the rise in temperatures since 1950.

The report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is their fourth assessment since 1990 on the causes and consequences of climate change, but it is the first in which the group asserts with near certainty (i.e., more than 90 percent confidence) that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from human activities have been the main causes of warming in the past half century. Striking a hopeful note, the report said warming and its harmful consequences could be substantially blunted by prompt action. Two groups consisting of major global businesses – U.S Climate Action Partnership (USCAP) and Combat Climate Change Initiative (3C Initiative) – are already trying to mobilize businesses to take the lead on climate change.

U.S. Climate Action Partnership

A diverse group of U.S.-based businesses and leading environmental organizations called on the federal government to quickly enact strong national legislation to achieve significant reductions of greenhouse gas emissions. The group said any delay in action to control emissions increases the risk of unavoidable consequences that could necessitate even steeper reductions in the future.

This alliance, called the U.S. Climate Action Partnership (USCAP), consists of major corporations with a combined market capitalization of more than $750 billion, including Alcoa, BP America, Caterpillar, Duke Energy, DuPont, FPL Group, General Electric, Lehman Brothers, PG&E, and PNM Resources; along with four leading NGO’s with more than one million members – Environmental Defense, Natural Resources Defense Council, Pew Center on Global Climate Change, and World Resources Institute.

USCAP has issued a landmark set of principles and recommendations to underscore the urgent need for a policy framework on climate change. The solutions-based report, titled A Call for Action, lays out a blueprint for a mandatory economy-wide, market-driven approach to climate protection. “The time has come for constructive action that draws strength equally from business, government, and non-governmental stakeholders,” said Jeff Immelt, Chairman and CEO of General Electric. “These recommendations should catalyze legislative action that encourages innovation and fosters economic growth while enhancing energy security and balance of trade, ensuring U.S. leadership on an issue of significance to our country and the world.”

USCAP’s recommendations [visit ] are based on the following six principles:

  • Account for the global dimensions of climate change;
  • Recognize the importance of technology;
  • Be environmentally effective;
  • Create economic opportunity and advantage;
  • Be fair to sectors disproportionately impacted; and
  • Recognize and encourage early action.

The principles and the recommendations outlined in A Call for Action are the result of a year-long collaboration motivated by the shared goal of slowing, stopping and reversing the growth of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions over the shortest period of time reasonably achievable.

USCAP urges policy makers to enact a policy framework for mandatory reductions of GHG emissions from major emitting sectors, including large stationary sources and transportation, and energy use in commercial and residential buildings. The cornerstone of this approach would be a cap-and-trade program. The environmental goal is to reduce global atmospheric GHG concentrations to a level that minimizes large-scale adverse impacts to humans and the natural environment. The group recommends Congress provide leadership and establish short- and mid-term emission reduction targets; a national program to accelerate technology research, development and deployment; and approaches to encourage action by other countries, including those in the developing world, as ultimately the solution must be global.

3C – Combat Climate Change – A Business Leaders’ Initiative

The 3C Initiative aims at forming a global opinion group consisting of companies showing leadership by demanding an integration of climate issues into the world of markets and trade facilitated by means of a global framework coming into force in 2013. Many of the companies signing the 3C Initiative also take part in other activities on climate change such as the World Economic Forum’s G8 Climate Change Roundtable and various Trade Associations’ initiatives. Duke Energy and General Electric are part of USCAP as well as 3C signatories. Other signatories include Bayer, PG& E Corporation, and Siemens.

The goal of the 3C Initiative is to underline the need for urgent action by the global community and to influence the post-Kyoto process by demanding a global framework supporting a market based solution to the climate change issue. In essence, 3C’s principles for combating climate change are: 

  • A long-term switch-over to lower emissions of greenhouse gases is a necessity.
  • A worldwide policy framework is needed to replace the Kyoto Protocol from 2013 and onwards.
  • The priority should be to focus on a common, global goal of limiting global warming via a cap on the carbon dioxide equivalent concentration.
  • In order to minimize the cost of staying below the cap it is necessary to establish a global price for the emission of greenhouse gases.
  • To limit negative effects on global wealth, a global system facilitating emissions trading should be established.
  • The global burden should be shared but the richer countries shall pull a larger weight.

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