Business Community Pushes for Robust Climate Package in Durban

31 October 2011

A group of major corporations is calling upon governments to approve a "robust, equitable and effective agreement" when they meet later this year in Durban, South Africa to negotiate a global climate change pact. The statement, which was issued on behalf of nearly 200 companies from the energy, finance, retail, and manufacturing sectors, calls for the establishment of an effective price on carbon to drive emissions reductions and an end to fossil fuel subsidies.

The statement warns that the business sector is left in a vulnerable position when governments fail to provide clarity on their approach to climate change policy. The companies are strongly urging developed and developing countries to push past their differences over the future of the Kyoto Protocol, the first commitment period of which expires next year (see Bridges Trade BioRes, 17 October 2011).

The "2°C Challenge Communiqué" - a reference to the goal of capping rising global temperatures at 2°C above pre-industrial levels - is an initiative of the recently formed Corporate Leaders' Network for Climate Action (CLN). The communiqué is the fifth in a series of statements originally developed by The Prince of Wales's Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change (CLG). Both the CLN and CLG are hosted under the University of Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership.

The Corporate Leaders Group reached out to businesses in over 30 countries for support when crafting the communiqué - taking a broader approach than in previous years. "The expansion of the network to include business groups from other countries shows that, far from losing interest in climate change as an issue, there is an emerging and increasingly international consensus amongst enlightened corporate leaders of the need for urgent action," said Eliot Whittington, director of The Prince of Wales group.

The statement is backed by some of the most recognised brands in the world, including Shell, Unilever, Tesco, Johnson & Johnson, Ricoh, Cemex, Proctor & Gamble, Nedbank, the Lloyds Banking Group, and Brazilian mining giant Vale.

"The companies endorsing the 2°C Challenge Communiqué set a great example," said UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) chief Christiana Figueres. "Corporate leadership that provides powerful vocal support for action gives governments the greater confidence they need to move forward a global climate change agreement that will ultimately cover the current ambition gap."

Bridging gaps has become a recurring theme during the past year's climate talks, with developed and developing countries deeply divided over Kyoto and climate funding. Developing countries have accused developed countries of failing to live up to funding commitments made at last year's Conference of the Parties (COP) in Cancun, Mexico.

Earlier this month, the Green Climate Fund - which aims to provide developing countries with up to US$100 billion annually by 2020 for tackling climate change - suffered a setback when the UN committee assigned to design the fund was unable to reach consensus. However, despite reportedly facing pushback from the US and Saudi Arabia on the wording of the design text, the committee has submitted a draft for consideration at the upcoming COP.

This year's UNFCCC COP in Durban is scheduled for 28 November to 9 December.

ICTSD Reporting; "Companies call for tougher climate action," BBC, 20 October 2011; "Global Business Leaders Urge ‘Effective' Climate Deal in Durban," ENVIRONMENT NEWS SERVICE, 20 October 2011; "Setback for Green Climate Fund," MALAYSIA STAR, 23 October 2011; "U.N. completes draft of green climate fund: official," REUTERS, 21 October 2011.

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