Dealing With Climate Change Is Up To Companies, Not Just Governments
If we lament that some governments are reluctant to take on binding greenhouse gas reduction targets, an impressive group of business leaders is already fully engaged, many of them in them in countries like Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Meanwhile in the US, 3000 businesses are not waiting around any longer to see if climate and clean energy legislation will move along in Congress. They are pushing for it with full force.
Ethisphere in Forbes Magazine by Scott McAusland and Teresa Fogelberg,
And some of the companies leading the way are in the emerging world.
Four months after the United Nations Climate Change conference in Copenhagen, bitter disappointment has settled in among many around the world. Governments have spent months and years getting almost nowhere on climate negotiations. But it is companies that are the elephant in the room. They have become a silent force toward progress, and a significant one, too. Of the hundred largest economies in the world, 52 are multinational enterprises; only 47 are nation states.
You can’t grasp what has been accomplished in addressing climate change without looking at what companies have done, and are doing, to measure and reduce their carbon use. In recent years several systems have been developed to enable businesses to establish their baseline greenhouse gas emissions, develop reduction targets and track their emissions and potential for reduction. Obviously such accounting has to be performed in a transparent way, meaning that information needs to be shared among all stakeholders, including all the nations that are party to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Kyoto Protocol and any future agreements.
The Global Reporting Initiative provides the world’s most widely used sustainability reporting framework, with a core set of greenhouse gas yardsticks among its many wider environmental, social and governance disclosure principles and indicators. The Global Reporting Initiative was begun by Ceres, a Boston-based nonprofit, in 1997 and has grown into a network of thousands of experts in dozens of countries. More than a thousand companies worldwide now issue annual sustainability reports based on its standards, and many include the information in their annual reports. Those companies aren’t just in Europe and North America; Brazil ranks third in the number of countries involved, behind only the U.S. and Spain.
Some emerging economies appear to be leading the way in sustainability disclosure. A recent report by the Global Reporting Initiative and the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants contains both bad and good news. The bad news is that fewer than half of the companies studied worldwide are producing and sharing specific information based on GRI indicators. The good news is that large businesses in South Africa, China, India and Brazil, most of them in metals and mining or oil and gas, are doing full reporting. They are disclosing their climate change strategies and governance policies, and also their perceived physical and regulatory risks. They have all set targets and are measuring them, though few seek out external confirmation of their findings. The study looked at 32 big companies in those four countries and Russia; the Russian companies lagged behind but still had some impressive accomplishments.
So even as we lament that some governments are reluctant to take on binding greenhouse gas reduction targets, an impressive group of business leaders is already fully engaged, a significant number of them in the so-called “BRICSA” nations–Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. They send an important message to government-level negotiators, to the business community and to the world at large.
Scott McAusland is the media communications manager, and Teresa Fogelberg is the deputy chief executive officer, of the Global Reporting Initiative
3,000 Businesses Create New Ad for Climate Change Action
Written by Zachary Shahan in CleanTechnica.com (12 April 2010):
3,000 US businesses are not waiting around any longer to see if climate and clean energy legislation will move along in Congress. They are pushing for it with full force.
American Businesses for Clean Energy (ABCE), the US Climate Action Partnership (USCAP) andother businesses outside of these organizations have created a new national advertising campaign to push for swift action on this important legislation.
The 3,000 businesses working together on this include global leaders like Google, Nike, Ford, General Electric, General Motors, Gap, Johnson & Johnson, Michelin, Shell, Whirlpool and Timberland as well as smaller mom-&-pop businesses.
Appearing in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Ohio, South Carolina and Florida, the print ad, titled “A Question of American Leadership,” calls on Congress to enact bipartisan climate and energy legislation that “…increases our security and limits emissions, as it preserves and creates jobs.”
The ad unites a broad spectrum of American businesses, faith-based groups, national security organizations, labor unions and environmental NGOs who believe that strong action on climate and energy legislation can lead to an improved economy, job creation and energy security.
If 3,000 businesses doesn’t sound like a lot to you. Think of it this way: these businesses represent 11 million American jobs and the companies’ revenues combined equal $2.5 trillion.
Of course, a few oil and coal companies can boast a decent combined revenue stream themselves and have plenty of lobbyists in DC pushing the other way, but should the US Congress be listening to companies that are only looking out for their bottom line or this much wider assortment of US companies that seem to be looking out for the Earth’s bottom line (as well as their own)?
“This ad push brings together the best of American businesses large and small to send a clear message to our leaders in Washington: We need action on climate and clean energy starting today. The businesses that are part of ABCE represent a range of views and regions, and we stand united behind the need for comprehensive clean energy legislation that will create jobs, unleash innovation and make our nation more secure, while cutting greenhouse gas emissions,” Christopher Van Atten, a spokesperson for American Businesses for Clean Energy says.
The full ad and a list of some of the major companies involved in this national ad campaign are available at climatead.org.
It is something to see businesses come together like this to push for clean energy and climate change legislation — not something you see everyday. It seems that it is time for Congress to give them more attention.