Corporations agree to cut carbon emissions
Rhett A. Butler, mongabay.com
February 20, 2006
"Failing to act now would lead to far higher economic and environmental costs and greater risk of irreversible impacts," warned the Global Roundtable on Climate Change in a statement issued Tuesday. "Long-term success will require a concerted effort to de-carbonize the global energy system."
The Roundtable put forth a series of recommendations for world governments to reduce the risk of climate change including setting "scientifically informed" targets for global CO2 concentrations, developing a carbon trading market, promoting energy efficiency and de-carbonization through the increased used of renewable energy, providing incentines to reduce deforestation and harmful land management practices, implementing adaption strategies to prepare populations for the impact of global change, and launching public awareness campaigns to inform citizens of the risks of and solutions to climate change.
"Cost-efficient technologies exist today, and others could be developed and deployed, to improve energy efficiency and to help reduce emissions of CO2 and other GHGs in major sectors of the global economy," stated the Roundtable. "Research indicates that heading off the very dangerous risks associated with doubling pre-industrial atmospheric concentrations of CO2, while an immense challenge, can be achieved at a reasonable cost."
With corporations now making up roughly two-thirds the world's 150 largest entities, the private sector is arguably as important as governments in directing policy on climate change. This new initiative will likely increase pressure on the world's largest polluters -- especially Europe and the United States -- to take action on the issue, which could have a devastating economic impact. A study released in October by the British government said that economic damage caused by global warming could rival that of the Great Depression.
Atmopheric concentrations of carbon dioxide -- the principal greenhouse gas produced by human activities -- currently stands at the highest levels in at least 650,000 years according to research published in 2005. Most carbon emissions result from power generation, responsible for more than 40 percent of energy-related emissions worldwide. Overall, industry accounts for more than 18 percent of emissions, transport 20 percent, and the residential and services sector 13 percent. The U.S. is the largest polluter, followed by China.
While the effects of higher CO2 levels are still poorly understood, scientists are concerned that climate change could have a major impact on weather patterns, the distribution of ice, ecosystems, and ocean currents and sea levels. During the past year alone studies have warned that climate change could result in the demise of coral reefs, the shutdown of the Gulf stream and related currents, melting Arctic ice and glaciers, emerging diseases, bitter winters and drought, changes in vegetation, stronger storms and hurricanes, and mass extinction.
The 187 largest global entities. The table below includes the largest economic entities on Earth as measured by GDP [Source: World Development Indicators database, World Bank, 20 Feb 2007] and Total Revenue [Source: Feb 20, 2007 Fortune Magazine]. Figures tabulated by Rhett A. Butler of mongabay.com.
United States; China; Japan; India; Germany; United Kingdom; France; Italy; Russia; Brazil; Korea, South; Canada; Mexico; Spain; Indonesia; Taiwan; Australia; Turkey; Iran; Argentina; Thailand; South Africa; Poland; Netherlands; Philippines; Pakistan; Saudi Arabia; Colombia; Ukraine; Exxon Mobil; Bangladesh; Belgium; Egypt; Wal-Mart Stores; Malaysia; Royal Dutch Shell; Sweden; Austria; BP; Vietnam; Algeria; Hong Kong; Switzerland; Greece; Czech Republic; Norway; Portugal; Chile; Denmark; Romania; General Motors; Chevron; Nigeria; DaimlerChrysler; Toyota Motor; Peru; Ford Motor; Ireland; Venezuela; Hungary; Finland; ConocoPhillips; Israel; General Electric; Total; Morocco; Kazakhstan; Singapore; ING Group; Citigroup; AXA; United Arab Emirates; Allianz; Volkswagen; Fortis; Crédit Agricole; American Intl. Group; New Zealand; Assicurazioni Generali; Siemens; Sinopec; Slovakia; Sudan; Nippon Telegraph & Telephone; Carrefour; Iraq; HSBC Holdings; Sri Lanka; ENI; Aviva; Intl. Business Machines; McKesson; Tunisia; Honda Motor; State Grid; Hewlett-Packard; BNP Paribas; PDVSA; UBS; Bank of America Corp.; Burma; Hitachi; China National Petroleum; Pemex; Nissan Motor; Berkshire Hathaway; Home Depot; Valero Energy; Belarus; J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.; Samsung Electronics; Matsushita Electric Industrial; Bulgaria; Deutsche Bank; HBOS; Verizon Communications; Syria; Libya; Cardinal Health; Puerto Rico; Prudential; Nestlé; Deutsche Telekom; Dominican Republic; Metro; Dexia Group; Credit Suisse; Ethiopia; Royal Bank of Scotland; Tesco; Peugeot; U.S. Postal Service; Altria Group; Zurich Financial Services; E.ON; Sony; Vodafone; Société Générale; Électricité De France; Nippon Life Insurance; Statoil; France Télécom ; LG; Guatemala; Kroger; Ecuador; Munich Re Group; Deutsche Post; Croatia; State Farm Insurance Cos; Ghana; Marathon Oil; Azerbaijan; BMW; Fiat; Hyundai Motor; Procter & Gamble; ABN AMRO Holding; Royal Ahold; Repsol YPF; Legal & General Group; Petrobrás; Toshiba; Dell; Lloyds TSB Group; ThyssenKrupp; Boeing; Uzbekistan; AmerisourceBergen; Lithuania; Santander Central Hispano Group; BASF; Costco Wholesale; Suez; Target; Morgan Stanley; Robert Bosch; Kuwait; Angola; Uganda; Renault; Costa Rica; Slovenia; Turkmenistan; Serbia; Congo, Democratic Republic of the; Cuba.
This article used quotes and information from "WSU Researcher Finds Population, Consumption Drive Global Climate Change and Environmental Degradation" by Robert Strenge and "Driving the human ecological footprint" by Thomas Dietz, Eugene A Rosa, and Richard York.
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