Oil giants join climate group
The Observer (U.K.), April 25, 2004
Tony Blair will challenge George Bush's refusal to confront global warming by announcing this week the creation of a powerful coalition of big businesses, including oil giants, to tackle climate change.
In the Prime Minister's most outspoken statement yet on the threat posed by global warming, Blair will claim that big business has a responsibility to tackle climate change, a direct contrast to Bush's stance, which has seen him accused of having helped industry by watering down anti-pollution measures in the United States.
The consortium will try to find ways of reducing greenhouse gas emissions far beyond that of the stalled Kyoto protocol, which Bush rejected. Blair has responded to advice that Britain must abandon hope of attempting to persuade the Bush administration to take the threat seriously.
The new London-based consortium, called The Climate Group, involves Marks & Spencer, banks such as HSBC and oil giants such as BP and Shell. Although having some of the world's biggest polluters on board is bound to cause controversy, environmentalists have welcomed the pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emission and hailed the consortium as a positive move.
Dr Steve Howard, chief executive of The Climate Group, said: "Some companies
in the oil and gas sector have done little or nothing, or seem to have lobbied against attempts to tackle the problem or are simply seen as part of the problem. Yet companies like BP have reduced emissions by 18 per cent in the last three years.
"Prior to this there has been an absence of international leadership on climate change. The case for change is very compelling and this is no longer just an environment issue, but a social and economic one too."
Tuesday's launch will underline the credentials of Blair as one of the most committed world leaders to at least slowing climate change. Among those present will be Environment Secretary Margaret Beckett, Environment Minister Elliot Morley, Trade and Industry Minister Patricia Hewitt as well as Blair's chief scientific adviser, Sir David King, who recently described global warming as a greater threat to the world than international terrorism.
THE CLIMATE GROUP LAUNCHED BY TONY BLAIR
The Climate Group, a global coalition of cities, states, governments and corporations committed to collaboration on cutting greenhouse gas emissions, has been officially launched by British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Mr Blair was joined in London on Tuesday 27th April by Rt Hon Margaret Beckett (UK Secretary of State for Environment) Rt Hon Patricia Hewitt (UK Secretary of State for Trade & Industry) and Elliot Morley MP (UK Minister for Environment) together with a panel of leading supporters and an assembled audience of 300 people.
Climate Group founder members and supporters present included THE GERMAN GOVERNMENT (Kai Schlegelmilch, Assistant Head of Climate, Federal Ministry of Environment, Conservation & Nuclear Safety), CALIFORNIA EPA (Anne Baker, Deputy Secretary External Affairs, California EPA), CONNECTICUT CLEAN ENERGY FUND (Arnold Brandyberry, COO, Connecticut Innovations), THE STATE OF VICTORIA (The Hon Tom Roper, Environment Advisor to the Victorian Government), BP (Lord John Browne, Group Chief Executive, by video message), HSBC (Sir John Bond, Group Chairman), JYSK (Lars Larsen, founder and owner), LAFARGE (Jean-Francois Sautin, CEO Lafarge UK), NORSKECANADA & THE CANADIAN FOREST PRODUCTS ASSOCIATION (Russell Horner, President/CEO and Chairman respectively), SHELL
RENEWABLES (Karen de Segundo, CEO), SWISS RE (John Coomber, CEO), TIMBERLAND (Jeff Swartz, CEO), THE GREATER LONDON ASSEMBLY (Nicky Gavron,member), CARE International (Geoffrey Dennis, CEO), GREENPEACE UK (Stephen Tindale, Executive Director) and WWF-UK (Robert Napier, CEO). Professor Sir David King, the UK Governments Chief Scientific Advisor also spoke on the challenge of responding to the threat of climate change.
"The Climate Group is looking beyond Kyoto, which is a first step in driving reductions," saidd Climate Group CEO Dr. Steve Howard. "We know that there are many leading companies and governments dedicated to meeting or exceeding those targets. By bringing the key players together for the first time, we believe that the world can turn the corner on climate change."
A TWO-MINUTE VIDEO of the launch can be viewed at www.theclimategroup.org/video1.htm
S u p p o r t f o r T h e C l i m a t e G r o u p
Launching The Climate Group, The Prime Minister said that "I wish you the very best of luck with The Climate Group. I think its a very, very important initiative. I am delighted to see so many people from different parts of the world that are here today. This is an issue that will carry on dominating our agenda but hopefully with your help, it will dominate the agenda of the global community in the years to
In a special message for the launch, The Hon John Thwaites, Deputy Premier and Minister for Water and Environment for the Victorian Government said "The Victorian Government is excited to be a part of the Climate Group and is looking forward to working with leading governments and businesses to play a constructive role in seeking to address the threat of climate change."
In his message Lord Browne said "We very much welcome the creation of a global organization focused on the identification and transfer of best practice in reducing green house gas emissions in both the private and public sector. BP has much to learn, and welcomes the opportunity to join like minded organizations in supporting this initiative."
Speaking on the panel about the banking sectors response to the challenge of climate change, Sir John Bond said "We will have difficult decisions to make in the future. I welcome the opportunity for HSBC to be a founder member of the Bank Working Group of the Climate Group so that we can both learn and help shape the debate."
Steven Rockefeller, Chair of the Board of The Climate Groups founders, Rockefeller Brothers Fund said "The creation of this new network...will inspire others to take responsibility and follow their example, moving society toward the vitally important goal of sustainable development."
N e x t S t e p s
The Climate Group is currently in preparation for the first CONFERENCE OF THE REDUCERS meeting in Toronto, Canada (May 12th subsequent meetings in Europe, California and Australia are planned) and is developing plans for a virtual CARBON UNIVERSITY for policymakers and managers, as well as an annual CLIMATE INDEX league table of companies and cities, highlighting the leaders in reducing emissions.
In Toronto the Group will publish LESS IS MORE, a series of 14 case studies highlighting leaders on reducing emissions in the private and public sector internationally. We will continue to identify and document best practice on an ongoing basis. Case studies will also be published and updated on our web-site www.theclimategroup.org