Copenhagen: Global business leaders met in Denmark on Sunday to try to unite behind a call for long-term climate policies on oil, power and technology ahead of a United Nations, or UN, conference in December that aims to work on a replacement for the Kyoto Protocol.
Many companies want clearer carbon emission rules to plan investments around the world and capitalize on green technology. Some shareholders also want more climate-friendly business.
Complex issues: United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-moon. Denis Balibouse / Reuters
“We need a global decision” in December, said Philippe Joubert, president of Alstom Power, the electricity generation arm of the global French engineering firm which makes components for coal, gas and renewable energy power plants. “We have to address the Chinese, Russian, US, the German markets all together,” he said.
The meeting of around 500 business leaders was expected to call for a clear, long-term price on carbon emissions. Firms reliant on fossil fuels may lose out on measures to boost low-carbon alternatives and want to prepare for that.
Some US authorities have refused coal plant permits on the basis of their future carbon emissions.
“It’s a short-term concern,” Joubert told Reuters, referring to the impact on coal plant financing, adding that Alstom was piloting technologies to cut carbon from fossil fuel plants.
Not all businesses believe that fighting climate change means higher costs, organizers of the 24-26 May meeting said.
“You hear people saying ‘oh, we can’t agree, it will be bad for our business’. Well, here is a business voice that doesn’t think so,” said Tim Flannery, an Australian scientist and chairman of the Copenhagen Climate Council, among organizers of the talks to be addressed by UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon.
In a statement ahead of his speech on Sunday, Ban said reaching a deal to limit carbon-dioxide emissions at the end of the year may give a boost to global trade talks.
If member-states can find a way forward on an issue of such tremendous complexity, surely they can do the same in other areas, most notably the stalled Doha Round of trade talks, Ban said.
A failure to reach an agreement on both climate change and trade could cause countries to turn inward and lead to trade anarchy, he said.
The UN climate change conference in Copenhagen in December aims to agree on a treaty to fight global warming after 2012, when the terms of the Kyoto Protocol expire.
Bloomberg contributed to this story.