Climate Savers: Global Climate Treaty Good for Business

Climate Savers: Global Climate Treaty Good for Business

Nike, Nokia, HP and 16 other multinational companies launched a campaign Monday to nudge world leaders toward agreement of a global climate change treaty by late 2009.

The companies are part of the Climate Savers program spearheaded by the World Wildlife Fund, which is also a partner in the newly formed "Let the Clean Economy Begin" campaign. It implores leaders to set aggressive greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets and move toward a global climate change treaty at the United Nations climate change negotiations taking place later this year in Copenhagen.

The Climate Saver partners argue that reducing greenhouse gas emissions can be a boon for business, rather than a bust that some fear. The Climate Saver companies offer themselves as proof: All have agreed to voluntarily reduce emissions, which has led to increased efficiency and millions of dollars in savings.

"By cutting carbon emissions by 15 percent we're experiencing positive development on net profits," Niels Petter Wright, CEO of Climate Saver member Elopak, said in a statement.

Catalyst, a Climate Saver partner since 2005, estimated last year that it saved $5 million by reducing electricity consumption by 2 percent in 2006. IBM cut emissions by an average of 5.7 percent between 1998 and 2004, which saved about $115 million in reduced energy costs. Lowering idling time of its delivery vehicles in order to reduce fuel consumption and emissions saves Sagawa Express, a Japanese logistics company, about $7.4 million a year.

Climate saver partners also include Johnson & Johnson, Nike, Lafarge, The Collins Companies, Xanterra Parks and Resorts, Novo Nordisk, Tetra Pak, Sony, Nokia, Spitsbergen Travel, HP, Nokia Siemens Networks, JohnsonDiversey, Sofidel, and Fairmont Hotels & Resorts.

The Let the Clean Economy Begin campaign was unveiled as the Group of Eight leaders convene in Italy this week to discuss climate change and other pressing issues, such as the global economic recession.

The G8 leaders may agree on limiting temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius or less in order to avoid tipping points that will lead to severe climate change impacts, such as dramatically rising sea levels, more severe weather, pests and species endangerment; many hope the G8 countries will also settle on 2020 and 2050 emissions reduction targets. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has warned that global emissions must be reduced by between 50 percent and 80 percent by 2050 to hold temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius or less. Funding for adaptation and low carbon technology transfer to developing countries is also on the agenda.

The U.S. lags behind other G8 countries in addressing climate change, according to a scorecard released last week by WWF and financial services company Allianz SE. The country had typically taken the bottom slot when it came to things such as reducing emissions, clean energy technology investment, and renewable energy portfolio, but the U.S. moved up to the seventh place behind Russia and ahead of Canada. The improvement is due largely to President Barack Obama's introduction of new vehicle fuel economy and lighting standards, the clean energy investment provisions in the economic stimulus package, and passage of the Waxman-Markey bill in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The U.S. Senate began its hearings in preparation of climate change legislation it will draft this session. Government officials from the Departments of Energy, Agriculture and the Interior, as well as the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, are testifying that implementing clean energy policy would create millions of jobs that can't be exported while reducing dependence on foreign oil. Congressional economists peg the cost of putting the U.S. at the forefront of a clean energy economy at less than 50 cents per day per household, although EPA administrator Lisa Jackson said some states may experience higher costs that would still likely total less than $1 per day per U.S. household.

"Can anyone honestly say that the head of an American household would not spend a dollar a day to safeguard the well-being of his or her children, to reduce the amount of money that we send overseas for oil, to place American entrepreneurs back in the lead of the global marketplace, and to create new American jobs that pay well and cannot be outsourced?" Jackson said in her prepared remarks.

Background image CC licensed by Flickr user Hamed Saber.