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Global Business Leaders Commit to a Low Carbon Future Governments Called on to Lead Climate Policy

(Mexico City) – Over 300 companies from nearly 30 countries today committed to reducing their emissions in the energy, information and communication technologies (ICT) and buildings and construction sectors at the Business for Environment Climate Summit. The event was held under the patronage of the Mexican Minister of Environment Juan Rafael Elvira Quesada.

The two-day meeting concluded with a statement from business leaders agreeing that averting a major climate crisis with serious economic, political, health, environment and security impacts will require the creation of global policy and strong national legal frameworks. National policy instruments that governments should put in place, according to companies, include financial mechanisms to offset initial costs and reallocate total costs along the life cycle of buildings; phasing out fossil fuel subsidies; soft loans on climate solutions; smart grids; feed-in tariffs; and buy-downs in energy that send the right signals to the marketplace.

A number of companies made commitments to climate action: Several ICT companies agreed to reduce 7.6 gigatons of CO2 emissions by 2020. Building sector representatives committed to reduce emissions 40 percent by 2020 in new buildings and improve energy efficiency by up to 40 percent in existing buildings. Several energy companies at the meeting agreed that 100 percent renewable energy by 2050 is achievable and is something they continue to work towards as a sector.

Business leaders called upon governments to move forward international negotiations to ensure an ambitious outcome at the Cancun Climate talks (16th Conference of the Parties), organized by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change later this year (29 Nov – 10 Dec 2010). Business stressed the need for a global level playing field that would both enable these commitments and mainstream green entrepreneurship among and across industry sectors.

Companies also acknowledged that entrepreneurial action to address climate change can play a critical role in stimulating a smart global economic recovery, creating new jobs and building more sustainable and resilient low-carbon societies.

“It is possibly the first business summit ever to recognize the role of companies as solution providers. We all now recognize the huge problems that climate change is posing for our societies. We should now step up, lead and be part of the tidal wave of companies that bring the solutions our societies need,” said Barbara Kux, Chief of Sustainability, Siemens.

Companies also recognized their role in changing conduct and values for a more equitable future. “We recognize the role that big corporations have in changing supply chains so that small and medium enterprises can fully participate in the green economy,” said José Luis Prado, President, Gamesa.

“We recognize the possibility we have in changing behaviors, starting from our companies. We can walk the talk and enlist the hundreds and thousands of employees that work for our companies as solution providers,” said Magnus Kuschel, Managing Director, Commute Greener, Volvo Group.

The event pinpointed that the global green race has begun and acknowledged the role of civil society in making those solutions more visible and tangible.

UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director, Achim Steiner, said, “Many businesses including those at the B4E Summit are signaling leadership and seizing the opportunities of the climate change challenge. Why? Because many see rising risks to profits from the impacts of rising greenhouse gases but also an opportunity to become far more resource efficient and innovative enterprises. Governments at the UN climate convention meeting in Cancun and beyond have a responsibility to support these aims and actions by signaling their determination to set the kinds of national and global policy frameworks able to accelerate and sustain these transformations”.

“Civil society and business can both take a role in speaking-up so that the right policy-frameworks are put in place as well as in communicating the solutions which are already available,” said James Leape, Director General of WWF-International. “We should all recognize that international negotiations on climate are not moving at the pace needed. This business summit, held immediately before Cancun, should stimulate all governments to act in order to unleash business potential to transform our economies.”

“While governments hold the key to setting the right signals and incentives, it is business that provides the solutions we need,” said Georg Kell, Executive Director of the UN Global Compact. “Now is the time to support the many efforts that already exist, to ensure that low-carbon innovation is shared widely and to mobilize those still sitting on the fence. We cannot afford to wait any longer.”

In his keynote speech Al Gore, former US Vice-President and Nobel Prize said “We need the good companies to put pressure on all governments to lead by example and step-up their domestic and global commitments.”

Mexican Minister of Environment Juan Rafael Elvira Quesada said: “The private sector has much to offer in the global fight on climate change. We do not want that the conclusions and recommendations of this event remain in a drawer. We want to take them to Cancun, to enrich the negotiations.”

View B4E Climate Summit 2010 – A Call To Action
Media Contacts
United Nations Environment Programme
Nick Nuttall
UNEP Spokesman
+254 (0)733632755 or +41 79 5965737

Shereen Zorba
UNEP Newsdesk
+254 713601259

Jatziri Perez
Communications Coordinator
+52(55) 52865631 Ext 223

Valerie Benguiat
Climate Change Comunicator
+52(55) 52865631 Ext. 225

Mónica Echeverría
+1 (202) 495-4626

UN Global Compact
Matthias Stausberg
UN Global Compact
+1-917-214-1337 (cell)

For further information on this event click here.