June 20, 2008 / 2:37 AM / 12 years ago

Business chiefs call for G8 climate leadership

LONDON (Reuters) - Chief executives from 99 of the world’s largest corporations called on Friday for Group of Eight nations to take the lead on climate change and agree a successor pact to the Kyoto Protocol.

Chief executives from companies including Alcoa, British Airways, Deutsche Bank, EDF, Eskom and Royal Dutch Shell, delivered policy recommendations, including a call for deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, to Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda.

He will host the G8 leaders’ summit next month in Hokkaido.

“The business community has a crucial contribution to make to the design of a more effective global strategy to combat global warming,” World Economic Forum Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab said in a statement.

The businesses represent more than 10 percent of the market capitalization of all publicly-traded companies globally.

These recommendations come as governments are scrambling to agree a new global climate change treaty to succeed Kyoto, which expires after 2012.

“The new framework must be comprehensive, long-term and market-oriented for it to be environmentally effective and economically efficient,” they said, adding it must include all major economies including the United States, China and India.

Governments and business chiefs agree a new pact should be in place by the end of United Nations-sponsored climate talks in Copenhagen in late 2009, so governments have time to ratify it.

The business leaders want governments to commit to halving emissions by 2050, as well as accept intermediate targets to be achieved through the use of market mechanisms, including a “deep and liquid” international emissions trading market.

Leaders at the July 7-9 summit are expected to formalize the 2050 goal.

But doubts over medium-term targets linger after Fukuda said on Tuesday the summit was not an appropriate forum for setting such binding emissions curbs.

“Businesses can’t operate in a policy vacuum, so we need strong leadership from government to enable the business community ... to respond (to climate change) in the most postured way,” said Willie Walsh, CEO of British Airways.

Wide gaps exist within the G8 and between rich and poorer nations over how to share the burden of fighting climate change.

“I don’t think anyone should underestimate how complicated this is; it’s the world economy we’re talking about,” said Eileen Claussen of the Pew Center for Global Climate Change, which helped develop the recommendations.

“Countries are in very different places, not only politically but economically as well.”

A draft G8 summit declaration seen by Reuters shows that Washington is against agreeing ambitious targets in Hokkaido, saying instead that the U.S.-lead Major Economies Meeting, which will run on the sidelines of the G8 summit, is the right venue forum for such talks.

Reporting by Michael Szabo; Editing by Elizabeth Piper

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