At COP16, Business Sounds Note of Optimism

by | Dec 8, 2010

Ministerial-level talks began at the COP16 climate summit yesterday amid widespread pessimism about the chances for a binding agreement between governments, but some notes of hope on the role of business.

The executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, Christiana Figueres Olsen, said negotiators must reach an agreement on all outstanding elements of the 2007 Bali Road Map for climate change prevention and mitigation.

But a top Chinese negotiator said the country would not yet be making internationally binding commitments, according to the New York Times.

And two former U.S. state department officials told Bloomberg that a binding global climate treaty is impossible, and the U.N. should give up trying.

This year’s climate summit is placing a heavy emphasis on private sector efforts to tackle climate change, with appearances from high-profile business leaders such as Ted Turner and Richard Branson, a four day Green Solutions exhibition and a Global Business Day sponsored by the International Chamber of Commerce and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.

Writing for the Huffington Post, Jonathan Wootliff, head of corporate accountability at consultants Reputation Partners, said, “The diminished number of political figures is contrasted by the growing participation of the business community, which is speaking in stronger terms than ever before about the need to find real solutions to human-induced climate change.”

Opening Global Business Day, Olsen urged business to lead the fight against climate change. “There is much more you can do even before regulation is in place,” Olsen said, according to The Financial. “If you really see yourselves as stewards of the planet, then step up to the plate. Business needs to be ahead of governments.”

Global Business Day sponsor Cemex announced its next step to battle global warming: the cement company is launching a tool to measure greenhouse gases emitted at stages from raw material sourcing through manufacturing.

Cemex said the tool was the first of its kind in the building materials agency, but didn’t elaborate on what the tool is or how it will work.

The company said it will begin publishing product-specific carbon content for some of its products during 2011.
A study released by PricewaterhouseCoopers on Monday said that businesses believe global warming cannot be tackled by governments alone.

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