Partnerships with the private sector:
Climate change

«The only way to combat climate change is through decisive, concerted and sustained actions between governments, businesses and consumers.»

Stefanie Held

Stefanie Held

Stephanie Held is in charge of the Energy and Climate Focus Area of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development

WBCSD / World Economic Forum

Setting course for 2050

Across the board, business is now contributing to the high-level discussions about what to do to tackle climate change.

The fourth major analysis by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, published in 2007, blames human activity squarely for global warming. Most humans suddenly seem to agree with this charge. And most thoughtful business people agree that the economy of the future is going to be carbon-constrained. An unparalleled series of events have been slated for 2007 and 2008, leading up to the Summit of the G8 major financial/industrial nations in Japan. Business organizations based in Geneva have committed themselves to be part of this dialogue - from the Glion Dialogues on energy and clean technologies organized by WBCSD in April 2007, to Carbon-Expo co-organized by the International Emission Trading Association in May 2007, the UN Commission on Sustainable Development that same month, the G8 Summit scheduled for Germany in June, and the Climate Change conference in Indonesia at the end of the year. The WBCSD's Energy and Climate Focus Area, bringing together 112 representatives from 54 companies and 11 national and regional business councils, is taking part in all these events.

In March 2007 the WBCSD and its 190 member companies published a business contribution to the dialogues on cooperative action over the next half century and stated their conviction that the only way to combat climate change is through decisive, concerted and sustained actions between governments, businesses and consumers. Building on WBCSD's previous publications, the Policy Directions to 2050 report explores policy ideas and concepts for the transition to a low greenhouse gas economy. Companies can agree on policies; now governments must do the same.

The Gleneagles Dialogue

One of the major efforts to provide a consistent business voice for practical efforts to reduce greenhouse gases is being conducted through a partnership between WBCSD and the World Economic Forum (an independent, impartial and not-for-profit international organization committed to improving the state of the world by engaging leaders in partnerships to shape global, regional and industry agendas). The G8 Gleneagles Plan of Action is the major driving force for developing a policy framework for climate change after the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012. The Gleneagles Dialogue on Climate Change, Clean Energy and Sustainable Development is a unique G8/G20 governmental process involving the world's largest energy producer and consumer nations. It is a public-private dialogue that intends to deliver recommendations for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in time for the summit.

A select group of 50 member companies is taking part in the publicprivate discussions to develop recommendations for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. These proposals will be for Gleneagles Dialogue politicians to consider ahead of the 2008 Summit. Key industry sectors include: automotive, aviation, chemicals, energy, engineering and construction, financial services, IT and communications, logistics and transport, and mining and metals. Companies in these sectors with significant presence in Africa, China, India and Latin America are of particular interest to the discussion leaders.

Other issues in focus

Other Forum initiatives on climate focus on standardization, notably the Global Greenhouse Gas Register, which works towards standardization and transparency of corporate carbon footprints, and the Carbon Disclosure Standards Board (CDSB), which addresses project-based emission reductions in unregulated markets. Some of the questions the WBCSD Focus Area is tackling include how the current climate change debate influences business decisions and the development of new business models; how clear leadership by today's business in energy and climate can be defined; and how this translates into business commitments and action. The emphasis of these efforts is on developing a better understanding of the possibilities of technologies and related costs, the power of sectoral approaches and market-based mechanisms, and innovation and scale.

Long-term decisions and priorities affecting energy security, infrastructure, energy mix and carbon mitigation and storage techniques must be established now to facilitate the flexible and cost-effective attainment of long-term objectives. By 2025 final decisions must have been made and implemented in order to allow accelerated technology deployment to 2050. No one single solution will trigger the transition over the coming decades while also sustaining economic growth. An integrated portfolio of technologies, policies and mechanisms and a balance of global regional and national approaches will be required.

One of those responses to the challenge of climate change must be through communication. WBCSD has teamed up with the BBC to take the Council's dialogues on the role of business in society to a global level. The WBCSD Executive Committee, meeting in Hong Kong in March 2007, organized a televised debate on business and climate change among member company representatives. It focused on the business of climate change, both from a supply and a demand side and from the point of view of investors and employees.