By Barbara Kessler

Chief Executive Officers concerned about climate change – including the chiefs of Royal Dutch Shell, Alcoa, BP, British Airways, Deutsche Bank, Tokyo Electric Power, Duke Energy, Citi, Airbus SAS, France Electric, DuPont and Nike – have issued a statement to the G-8 national leaders urging them to support a “new international climate policy framework” of steep carbon reduction targets when they meet in July.

“Nothing less than a rapid and fundamental strategy to reach a low-carbon world economy is needed,’’ says the statement on behalf of 100 global CEOs.

“It is fair that rich countries should take the lead and demonstrate strong cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, but those countries who are currently developing fast will not be able to avoid their future responsibilities.”

The “Climate Policy Recommendations to G8 Leaders” calls for a minimum goal of halving greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and recommends that government leaders take specific steps to ensure the success of the goal by partnering with and supporting business innovations. It asks the national leaders to:

  • Rally all nations to participate in the next international agreement that will succeed the expiring Kyoto Protocol (which the United States has not signed)
  • Follow an agenda of “public-private cooperation” to develop cost effective ways of mitigating greenhouse gas emissions
  • Spur private financing for green development and develop “explicit public/private financing” for clean technology projects
  • Support “bottom up” strategies for emissions abatement, not just top-down emission reductions
  • Push for changes in consumer behavior and communicate the magnitude of the problem

The statement acknowledged that there are some “uncertainties” in addressing climate change, but concluded that a prudent “risk management perspective” calls for “all leaders of business and government to take action now.”

Rather than being a costly drain on the economy, fighting climate change could bring an economic boon, the CEOs said.

“A paradigm shift to a low-carbon economy by 2050 has the potential to drive forward the next chapter of technological innovation. It will require a third – this time a green – industrial revolution.”

The statement, 16 months in the making, was delivered to Japan’s Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda last week in advance of the G8 meeting planned for Japan in July. It was shepherded by the non-partisan, Geneva-based World Economic Forum, developed in collaboration with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and the Pew Center of Global Climate Change after discussion with more than 500 business executives and climate experts from around the world.

The participating companies, from all regions of the world, represent many sectors of the economy, including energy, aviation, automotive, chemicals, engineering, food, retail goods, financial services, media, mining, paper and professional services.
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