World leaders in private sector, organizations sign consensus statement on climate change
As a significant step toward tackling climate change, an unprecedented group of companies and organizations from around the world have endorsed a bold post-Kyoto framework for affecting change at the levels of policy and industry, particularly in regard to creating sustainable energy systems necessary for achieving economic growth.
Signatories of "The Path to Climate Sustainability: A Joint Statement by the Global Roundtable on Climate Change" represent a diverse range of sectors and industries throughout the world, including air transport, energy, technology, insurance, banking, and many others. The ability of so many key stakeholders with such diverse views to agree upon the Joint Statement demonstrates the possibility of fostering a global consensus on a positive, active approach to meeting the challenge of global climate change.
The statement--endorsed by companies such as Allianz, Bayer, Citigroup, DuPont, General Electric and Volvo--calls on governments to set scientifically informed targets for greenhouse gases and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. The agreement also urges governments to place a price on carbon emissions and to set forth policies aimed at addressing energy efficiency and de-carbonization in all sectors.
Calling climate change "an urgent problem," the statement lays out an active framework for global action to mitigate risks and impacts while also meeting the global need for energy, economic growth and sustainable development. It outlines cost-effective technologies that exist today and others that could be developed and deployed to improve energy efficiency and help reduce CO2 emissions and other greenhouse gases in major sectors of the global economy.
"Leaders from key economic sectors and regions of the world have reached a consensus on the path forward to reduce human-made climate change," said Jeffrey Sachs, chair of the Global Roundtable on Climate Change and director of The Earth Institute at New York's Columbia University. "This initiative points the way to an urgently needed global framework for action." Sachs commended the signatories for "their bold leadership and contribution to global progress on this critical issue."
The Climate Change Statement has been endorsed by critical stakeholders and independent experts at all levels, including leading corporations from all economic sectors; smaller firms with very different perspectives and concerns; an array of civil, religious, environmental, research and educational institutions; and a distinguished list of world-leading experts from the fields of climate science, engineering, economics and policy studies.
Among the signatories are Air France, Alcoa, Allianz, American Electric Power, Bayer, China Renewable Energy Industry Association, Citigroup, DuPont, Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand, ENDESA, Eni, Eskom, FPL Group, General Electric, Iberdrola, ING, Interface, Marsh & McLennan Companies, Munich Re, NRG Energy, Patagonia, Ricoh, Rolls Royce, Stora Enso North America, Suntech Power, Swiss Re, Vattenfall, Volvo, World Council of Churches, World Petroleum Council.
Individual endorsers include Eli Turk of the Canadian Electricity Association; Christian Kornevall of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development; David Struhs, vice-president of environmental affairs for International Paper; and Joshua Lipton and Joel Smith, CEO and vice-president, respectively of Stratus Consulting.
"Global businesses are assuming their just place as catalysts for action on climate change. But action by business alone is not enough," said Jeffrey Immelt, chairman and CEO of General Electric. "While we believe that applying technology against problems will create positive business opportunities that can result in positive change, national, state and local governments, academia and other non-governmental organizations must step forward with equal force. The Global Roundtable is an excellent venue focused on such a positive, proactive approach."
The statement specifically calls on governments to:
*set scientifically informed targets for global GHG concentrations, including ambitious but achievable interim goals for CO2, and to take immediate action in pursuit of those targets;
*to develop mechanisms that place a price on carbon emissions that is reasonably consistent internationally and across sectors in order to reward efficiency and emission avoidance and encourage innovation;
*establish policy initiatives to address energy efficiency and de-carbonization in all sectors;
*encourage the development and rapid deployment of low-emitting and zero-emitting energy and transportation technologies;
*and provide incentives to reduce emissions from deforestation and harmful land management practices.
In addition, says the statement, governments, the private sector, trade unions, and other sectors of civil society should undertake efforts to prepare for and adapt to the impacts of climate change, since climate change will occur even in the context of highly effective mitigation efforts.
Signatories to the statement have committed to:
*support scientific processes, including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC);
*work to increase public awareness of climate change risks and solutions;
*report information on their GHG emissions;
*engage in GHG emissions mitigation, which can include emissions trading schemes;
*champion demonstration projects; and
*support public policy efforts to mitigate climate change and its impacts.
"Of course, addressing climate change involves risks and costs. But much greater is the risk of failing to act," said Alain Belda, chairman and CEO of aluminum producer Alcoa. "I am convinced that we can build a global plan of action on climate change in ways that create more economic opportunities than risks. The work of the Global Roundtable on Climate Change is an excellent example of the type of effort needed to extend the climate change issue from one of talk to one of action."
Representatives of the global insurance industry have also endorsed the statement, citing climate change as a growing risk to business and society. "The insurance industry has always played a key role in helping business and society understand new risks. We provide an early warning, if you will," Clement Booth of Allianz SE, a leading multinational insurance, banking and asset management firm, explained. "Allianz believes it is already seeing signs that climate change is a serious emerging risk, and we expect it to remain a top-tier issue for the insurance industry for many decades to come."
The Global Roundtable on Climate Change is an initiative of The Earth Institute at Columbia University. Since 2004, it has convened more than 100 high-level stakeholders and experts twice a year--including senior executives from the private sector and leaders of international governmental and non-governmental organizations--to explore areas of potential consensus on core scientific, technological, and economic issues critical to shaping public policies on climate change. The Joint Statement is an outcome of these dialogues.
The Earth Institute at Columbia University is a leading academic center for the integrated study of Earth, its environment and society. More information is available on the Institute's Web site, www.earth.columbia.edu.