A replacement to the Kyoto treaty will be thrashed out in Bali next week.
In an unprecedented move, 150 leading businesses from across the planet have come together today to demand bold action on climate change from world leaders ahead of next week's summit. Major multinationals representing Europe, the US, UK, China and Australia have signed a communiqué with a very clear message: climate change is real, continued economic growth depends on tackling it, and taking action to counter the threat (such as moving towards decentralised energy sources like the one that
powers the West Quay shopping centre in Southampton shown above) will cost a fraction of the costs of doing nothing. At its heart are calls for:
- a comprehensive, legally binding United Nations framework to tackle climate change
- emission reduction targets to be guided primarily by science
- those countries that have already industrialised to make the greatest effort
- world leaders to seize the window of opportunity and agree a work plan of negotiations to ensure an agreement can come into force post 2012 (when the existing Kyoto Protocol expires)
This should be good news and propel politicians, who too often run scared of corporate power, to start to take meaningful decisions about how the world can cooperate to limit the worst effects of climate change. It acknowledges that without global cooperation we all face an uncertain future of floods, droughts, rising sea-levels, spreading diseases and greater poverty.
But it is deeply ironic that among their numbers are companies such as BAA and Eon which are lobbying the UK government for more runways and new coal fired power stations.
The driving force behind the comminiqué is the Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change, which includes major multinationals like Coca-cola, Nike, Tesco, Unilever and Shell. Let's hope that knowing they have the support of a broad spectrum of private sector interests will give our politicians the confidence to create the conditions in which a low carbon economy can be delivered as rapidly as possible - because we're running out of time.