GENEVA More than 150 companies including
Airbus, Coca-Cola and IKEA pledged on Friday to reduce the
carbon burden of their operations in a voluntary pact urging
governments to do more to confront climate change.
Drugmakers Novartis and Pfizer, mining giants Anglo
American and Rio Tinto, and the luxury goods specialist LVMH
were among the 153 firms who committed themselves to greater
Top environment officials welcomed the companies' promise
to undertake "practical actions" to reduce their contribution
to global warming, despite the lack of binding targets.
Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel
on Climate Change, said he hoped more of the 3,000 businesses
which have signed up to a United Nations corporate
responsibility drive would also adopt the measure.
"You need a group of pioneers who get things going," he
told a news conference in Geneva, where more than 1,000
corporate and government leaders met this week for a summit of
the U.N. Global Compact. "These are some of the leaders who
would inspire several others in the business."
Achim Steiner, head of the U.N. Environment Programme, said
companies may take time to accede to the "Caring for Climate"
initiative, which was distributed to all Global Compact members
a few months ago for review.
"A company which signs this is making some fairly
far-reaching commitments vis-a-vis its shareholders, vis-a-vis
the public, and vis-a-vis consumers, never mind governments
also," Steiner said.
Among big members of the U.N. Global Compact that did not
sign the climate initiative are banks UBS and Credit Suisse;
clothing retailers Nike, Hennes & Mauritz and Gap; oil company
Royal Dutch Shell; mining group BHP Billiton; and coffee
Bjorn Stigson, president of the Geneva-based World Business
Council for Sustainable Development, said it was important that
such initiatives remain voluntary to draw more companies into
discussions on climate change and other issues.
He said regulations on environmental taxes and fees and
other measures could help reinforce a shift towards the greener
practices espoused by those participating in the Global Compact
meetings at the U.N.'s European headquarters.
The "Caring for Climate" statement also urged governments
"to agree as soon as possible" on longer-term environmental
policies to succeed the Kyoto Protocol in 2012, including
efforts to set up a stable carbon-trading market.
Separately, the chief executives of Coca-Cola, Levi
Strauss, Lackeby Water Group, Nestle, SABMiller and Suez
launched a "CEO Water Mandate" project to help companies better
manage water use throughout their supply chains and help avoid
a global water crisis.