Climate Change: Is business “getting it”?
The business response to climate change is described as “timid” and “sleepy” by two of six expert commentators interviewed for a new report from ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) and GRI (Global Reporting Initiative), published today (7th December 2009).
The report, called Getting It: Expert Perspectives on the Corporate Response to Climate Change, (PDF) interviewed six business and sustainability experts about the climate change and business debate.
- Professor Mervyn King, Chair of GRI’s board, believes that reporting can and does drive performance, and calls on the COP15 negotiators to deliver a clear message on the need to report more formally on climate change issues.
- Paul Dickinson, CEO of the Carbon Disclosure Project, says that climate change is being thrust upon us and a collective failure to “get it” is likely to mean the end of the world as we know it today. However, Paul Dickinson is optimistic that business – after a slow start – will “get it” in time.
- Martin Hiller, Climate Change Communications Manager for the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), calls the business response to climate change “timid” as it has not been a big enough political issue and calls on heads of government to take the lead.
- Tim Jackson, Professor of Sustainable Development and Director of the Research group on Lifestyles, Values and Environment (RESOLVE) at the University of Surrey, suggests that business faces various challenges and that, despite the importance attached to it by some, climate change is too often just one of these challenges – he thinks it is better to communicate to business the opportunities offered up by climate change – adding that equity and justice need to be at the heart of the developed / developing world dialogue.
- Rory Sullivan, Head of Responsible Investment from Insight Investment, suggests that reporting may sometimes drive inappropriate behaviours, acknowledging that some of the largest companies have actually made considerable progress; but he also suggests that many could do better – through improved data quality, better assessment of risks and opportunities.
- Lord Turner, Chair of the UK’s Committee on Climate Change and Chair of the Financial Services Authority (FSA), calls for a clear legal framework within which developed countries commit to strengthening their reduction targets, saying this is the foundation stone for an effective global response to the challenges presented by climate change.
Roger Adams, executive director of policy at ACCA, says:
“These interviews offer a snapshot of what key players believe are the opportunities and threats ahead of us. There is a clear message that the policy response must be clear and coherent, but it also needs to be global. It is pleasing that these business leaders have been so honest about what they want when it comes to carbon policy decisions. For ACCA, we want to see global carbon accounting standards adopted by the corporate world. This will make carbon emission and GHG measurement easier for investors, shareholders, staff and other interested parties to understand just how business is performing.”
Teresa Fogelberg, Deputy Chief Executive of GRI says
“I am so glad that this group of individuals, who have earned their credibility in the field of climate change, have contributed their voices to this publication at this crucial time. They share with us their critical but constructive perspectives on where the global community- and particularly the private sector – currently stand in facing the climate change dilemma. So often people focus on what is going on at the government level, meanwhile ignoring what is going on within the extremely influential corporate world and the community of innovative civil society organisations."
Ms Fogelberg adds:
“Focusing on these other dimensions of society and their response to climate change can show quite a different picture – particularly when it comes to emerging markets such as China, India and South Africa, whose companies have shown some strong leadership in addressing climate change through setting their own emissions targets, as well as taking mitigation and adaption measures. This collection of some of the foremost expert views on the debate about climate change and business serves as food for thought for policymakers and the private sector alike on the eve of the COP15.”