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The Latest Corporate Social Responsibility News: The Business of Climate Change

Submitted by: CSRwire

Categories: Events, Corporate Social Responsibility

Posted: Jun 03, 2009 – 12:01 AM EST


Jun. 03 /CSRwire/ - By CSRwire Contributing Writers Bill Baue and Francesca Rheannon of Sea Change Media

187 days, 16 hours, 6 minutes, and 47 seconds – that’s the time remaining until the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP15) in Copenhagen this December, according to the “countdown” clock on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change website. When that clock reaches zero, world leaders will negotiate a successor to the Kyoto Protocol – hopefully before the climate’s “clock” reaches zero and the world spirals into climate catastrophe.

The global business community isn’t waiting -- this past week, 700 global business executives attended the World Business Summit on Climate Change. They issued the “Copenhagen Call,” a six-point statement listing the steps required to pass an effective global climate treaty. Two of the steps focus on supporting low emissions technologies, for example by creating “incentives for a dramatic increase in financing” them.

Business for Social Responsibility CEO Aron Cramer was there to lead a workshop on getting the carbon out of companies’ value chains. “As one of the companies in Copenhagen noted, the footprint of our value chain is 100 times greater than our own operations,” Cramer explained. “When you consider areas that have the potential for the biggest impact, the multifaceted nature of value chains offers a readymade, systems-based approach to a more climate-efficient economy."1

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Cramer was enthused by the truly global representation of businesses, the talk of a low-carbon economy from governments, and real commitment of business leaders to transition to a low-carbon world. However, he explained in a blog post, Cramer was discouraged by the posturing of business leaders trumpeting relatively limited initiatives instead of game-changers.

Dissidents were sharper in their critique. Protesters carrying a banner reading “Our Climate is not Your Business” attempted to breach police lines to disrupt the meeting, leading to 71 arrests. They pointed out that corporate attendees included the top carbon emitters in the world, including Shell, Duke Energy, and BP.

“The Danish government appears to be under the impression that some of the world’s most polluting companies are going to put forward tough measures to tackle climate change,” said Kenneth Haar, a researcher with Corporate Europe Observatory, as quoted on the DissidentVoice blog. “But unfortunately this doesn’t seem likely to be the case. The majority of the corporations attending the World Business Summit on Climate Change seem more intent on pursuing business as usual -- with the promise that future technologies will resolve the problem at a later date.”

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