Let the games begin - Bali

Like a final shout from the stadium stands to a pack of deliberating referees, more than 150 international companies issued a joint communiqué on Friday urging policy makers to aggressively confront climate change issues during the UN Climate Change Conference in Bali, which begins today, December 3.

The two-week conference will focus on discussing new international climate change policy, and the vocal companies, together called The Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change, are demanding decisive direction and commitment from political leaders that will enable businesses to make sound investments in low carbon-emitting technology. In the spirit of the Stern Report, the statement says action against climate change will be relatively inexpensive compared to the costs of inaction.

 “We believe that tackling climate change is the pro-growth strategy,” the statement reads, and then goes on to advocate a legally binding agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that requires world-wide participation but with the greatest effort coming from industrialized countries.

Notable US signatories include Coca-Cola, Dupont, Gap, GE, Johnson and Johnson, Nike, Pacific Gas and Electric, Sun Microsystems and United Technologies. European based companies include Anglo-American, British Airways, F&C Asset Management, Ferrovial, Nestle, Nokia, Rolls Royce, Shell, Tesco, Virgin and Volkswagen while Australian based companies include Insurance Australia Group, Macquarie, National Australia Bank, News Corporation and Westpac.

Perhaps most interesting signatory is the Chinese corporation Shanghi Electric, a part of Shanghai Electric Group, listed as a Forbes Global 2000 company in 2007.  To date the Chinese government has staunchly resisted mandatory carbon caps.

The Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change is a Cambridge University initiative, which has issued a series of statements urging governments to address climate change, beginning with the G8 Summit meeting in Gleneagles, 2005.  The communiqué will be sent to the 130 environmental ministers attending the conference…aka the referees in this first global discussion about a post-Kyoto agreement.  They’ve got a tough crowd to please. 

− Victoria Schlesinger