UN urges firms to push for climate action

2012-01-27 09:25
Davos - The world has no chance of sealing an emissions cut deal unless companies lobby their governments for an accord, the UN climate chief told the global business elite in Davos.

"Even though governments have said in Durban 'Yes we're going to dedicate the next three years to negotiating and agreeing by 2015 a new legally binding agreement', let's be very clear, that is not going to happen," said Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

"That is not going to happen merely from the top down perspective. That is only going to happen if it's bottom up, if the private sector moves in.

"Unless you have this from the bottom up, unless you have very powerful pressure from consumers, from private sector, from civil society to governments to say 'Yes, this is what we want, as a humankind this is what we want', it's not going to happen because it's just too big," she added.

Marathon talks in December delivered a broad agreement to seal a new accord by 2015 on cutting greenhouse gas emissions, which have been blamed for global warming.


Corporations would not be spared if the world continued to heat up, leading to warped weather events, said Figueres.

Citing the devastating floods in Bangkok late in 2011, the UN climate chief noted the disaster "shut down 25% of hard-drive computer production around the world".

"If that's not an example of how intricately linked we are, how governments and private sector need to work together, there's just no more compelling example than that," she said.

Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga also called on corporations to play their part even if governments agreed in Durban to launch the Green Climate Fund.

This will help channel up to $100bn a year by 2020 to poor countries facing worsening floods, drought, storms and rising seas.

"But more funds are needed, and as bureaucrats continue to talk, people continue to suffer almost on a daily basis, so something has to be done.

"That's where the private sector comes in, as a partner... to move this agenda forward," he said.

However, the chair of Africa's biggest energy company Eskom Holdings threw the ball back in the governments' court.

Companies consider risks above all before taking on any new ventures, said Zola Tsotsi, who heads the South African group.

Therefore, governments need to show determination to fight climate change in order to convince corporations to throw in their lot.

"Governments and countries need to show commitment in their involvement in mitigation and climate change," he said.

"By so doing they should make the treasuries available to show that guarantees are in place for those who want to invest in these areas."

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