Copenhagen may not have been the success hoped for, but that doesn’t mean that there is any less pressure on governments and companies to address their carbon emissions. The following activities have been reported since the start of the year:
• This week several investor groups, representing $13 trillion in assets, came together to issue a statement urging a legally-binding agreement this year, including a global emission reduction target of 50–85% by 2050. “While we will continue to press for an international agreement, we come to the United Nations today to collectively say that investors, businesses, and governments cannot wait for a global treaty before taking action”.
The group urged governments to adopt short- and long-term emission reduction targets, to put an effective price on carbon, instigate energy and transportation policies, introduce financing mechanisms to mobilise private-sector investment, provide financing to support climate change adaptation and to force corporations to disclose climate-related risks.
• Billionaire investor George Soros came out for a US cap-and-trade bill at a recent UN-backed Investor Summit on Climate Risk. His reasoning was that without some carbon pricing the US clean tech sector would lose out.
Soros’ support may not be entirely altruistic, though. He has previously critical of a cap-and-trade mechanism because it creates a market that can potentially be manipulated.
• Adding to corporate pressure, Reuters reported earlier in the year on renewed calls my the Aldersgate Group of UK firms, green groups and MPs for the government to force companies to report their greenhouse gas emissions. (The group has been making the demand since June 2008).
A letter was sent to business minister Peter Mandelson signed by WWF and Friends of the Earth and over 50 MPs including Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg and Conservative shadow environment minister Greg Barker.
• In France, Carbon Tax legislation fell at the last hurdle at the end of last year, primarily because it was aimed at households and did not include significantly polluting businesses. However, new legislative proposals are expected shortly which will impose the tax on companies.
• It’s not all good news, though. In his annual speech to the Chamber of Commerce in the US, Thomas Donohue, President and CEO, criticised US legislative plans on climate change; “The bill passed by the House last year would tie economic activity in knots and eliminate jobs from one end of the country to another”. “They (businesses) see a climate change bill and potential EPA regulations that could significantly raise energy prices and impose new layers of bureaucracy on their organisations”.
Several companies have left the Chamber because of its stance, including Apple.
The point is that whilst a global agreement at Copenhagen would have accelerated international legislation and hence corporate action, there is still significant pressure on governments to introduce national laws and on companies to act now This year may not be the sudden boom time for green ICT that was expected, but it will still see significant growth to address these pressures.