Companies Commit to Reducing Climate Risks

UN European Headquarters
The United Nations' European Headquarters in Geneva.

More than 150 companies from around the world signed a declaration to reduce carbon emissions and improve energy efficiency at the UN Global Compact Leaders Summit in Geneva on July 5 and 6. The statement, “Caring for Climate: The Business Leadership Platform,” asks governments to work toward a market-based climate plan that would enter into effect in 2012, when the Kyoto Protocol commitments effectively end. The declaration is unique in that it “is both a call to Governments and a commitment to action by business itself, coupled with an undertaking to communicate progress annually,” said Georg Kell, Executive Director of the UN Global Compact.

Participants in the voluntary initiative set their own emissions and efficiency targets and report annually on progress toward those goals. They also commit to reducing climate risks by collaborating with other enterprises in their sectors and along their supply chains. “Climate change is shaping global markets and global consumer attitudes,” said UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner. “Companies who seize the opportunities, who adopt environmental, social, and governance policies, and who evolve, innovate, and respond to these challenges are likely to be the pioneers and industry leaders of the 21st century.”

Coca-Cola, Dupont, and Ikea are among the corporations that have signed on to the new climate declaration. “In the 21st century, you're going to have to be seen as a steward of the planet,” Coca-Cola chief executive E. Neville Isdell told Reuters. Although some groups have accused the beverage giant of depleting groundwater resources and selling contaminated products, the UK-based Institute of Social and Ethical AccountAbility is optimistic about the developments, according to Reuters. "The CEO of Coca-Cola sharing the stage with the U.N. secretary general, Amnesty International and the International Trade Union Confederation? That would not have happened a couple of years ago," said the group’s Alex MacGillivray.

The UN Global Compact is a cooperative initiative launched in July 2000 that brings together companies, UN agencies, and labor and civil society groups to work toward 10 principles in the areas of human rights, labor, the environment, and anti-corruption.

This story was produced by Eye on Earth, a joint project of the Worldwatch Institute and the blue moon fund. View the complete archive of Eye on Earth stories, or contact Staff Writer Alana Herro at aherro [AT] worldwatch [DOT] org with your questions, comments, and story ideas.