Global business poised to push governments on climate deal

Global business leaders could make a significant contribution toward a fair and safe deal to tackle climate change when they meet at an international summit in Copenhagen beginning May 24.

International agency Oxfam – whose executive director Jeremy Hobbs will speak at the World Business Summit on Climate Change, a gathering of more than 800 business leaders – says that the private sector are set to push wavering governments for far more ambition and leadership at the 11th hour.

“This is the time that big business must talk as one international voice to political leaders and we anticipate – for the first time – that it will be calling for both long- and mid-term targets for emissions cuts, and for money on the table to help developing countries adapt and pursue low-carbon futures,” Hobbs said. “These are make-or-break issues. We could witness at this meeting the private sector wielding its power for the climate good. The outcome could not matter more to millions of poor people around the world who are already suffering first and worst from the impacts of climate change.”

“It is crucial that the Summit’s “Copenhagen Call” contains specific detail on these key issues and that it is not derailed by businesses that continue to resist the inevitability of a low-carbon future,” Hobbs said. “At the moment, the private sector is a very mixed bag. There are companies providing world-class leadership, vision and action on climate change such as Marks and Spencer, National Grid and Royal Mail in the UK, and Gap, eBay and Starbucks in the US. However there are others that are just looking for loopholes and excuses.”

“Companies have a powerful interest to tackle climate change because they have to secure their own markets and supply chains. And they must call for a fair and safe deal so that the future world economy is stable and sustainable,” Hobbs said. “It is not only the future of business at stake, but that of human development.”

Oxfam says the Summit’s “Copenhagen Call” must specify at least 80% emission cuts from 1990 levels by 2050 and acknowledge that emissions must peak by 2015 and fall to at least 40% below 1990 levels by 2020 in developed countries. It must also demand that rich countries commit at least $150 billion a year  for developing countries to adapt and mitigate, “which is the amount the US found to bail-out AIG,” Hobbs said. “These are the numbers that will make a difference – anything less will be a golden opportunity blown.”

Oxfam will also be wary of “red warning flags” – such as harsh intellectual property regimes and voluntary sectoral agreements for target cuts – which could arise in discussions at the Summit. “The devil in the detail of these kinds of issues could undermine the safety and fairness of a global deal,” Hobbs said.

Notes to editors

Oxfam Media Materials at the World Business Summit

A pack of media materials will be available at the Summit. These include:

  1. An Oxfam briefing note on “Industry Sectoral Agreements” that sets out the argument for and against these agreements in terms of whether they can help deliver a fair and safe climate deal.
  2. A brief report of case studies that illustrates what Oxfam is doing to help people living in poverty adapt to the harmful effects of worsening climate change.
  3. A profile of three companies – National Grid (UK and US), and Royal Mail and Marks & Spencer (UK) – as examples of how some businesses are showing world-beating leadership in tackling climate change.

Oxfam Speech at the World Business Summit

Jeremy Hobbs will speak at 10:49–10:56 am Monday May 25 on the main platform on Business and Adaptation. This session aims “from a business perspective, to highlight successful adaptation actions and begin to outline the necessary international policy measures to support the scaling-up of these activities”. Jeremy Hobbs will “share a broader perspective on the human impacts of adaptation, and how these elements are connected with business planning.”

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