Ethical Performance
inside intelligence for responsible business


new coalition to draw up climate change metrics

March 2007

Leading climate change organizations are to create what they hope will be a generally accepted framework for climate risk-related reporting by corporations.

The seven non-governmental organizations agreed at the recent World Economic Forum annual meeting at Davos in Switzerland to form a Climate Disclosure Standards Board. The board will assist companies in streamlining their climate change disclosures so that investors and the public can better compare and analyze the information.

The founding members are the California Climate Action Registry, the Carbon Disclosure Project, Ceres, the Climate Group, the International Emissions Trading Association, the WEF Global Greenhouse Gas Register and the World Resources Institute.

Crucially, each of the seven organizations has agreed to make the same specific requests for information from companies ‘to ensure that they report climate change-related information in a standardized way’.

Climate change was a prominent topic at this year’s Davos forum. Business leaders in particular pushed for extra debate, and 17 forum sessions related directly to global warming.

Simon Zadek, chief executive of the think-tank AccountAbility, who attended the forum, said he had been encouraged by the apparent level of commitment among the business leaders. However, he added that company chief executives and chairmen appeared to have taken over the agenda as their own, and that civil society leaders had been ‘excluded from the debate’. He said: ‘Civil society participation was definitely reduced this year, [with] reduced visibility in key panels and discussion groups.’

Zadek applauded what he called the ‘we can solve this’ mentality of business on climate change but said corporate heads should not believe they can solve the problem without the assistance of other parts of society.

Some business leaders also warned that companies must avoid focusing on climate change at the expense of other social and environmental issues that could be more material to their business. Neville Isdell, chief executive of Coca-Cola, told delegates that companies must concentrate on what is integral to their business, such as the availability of clean water in Coca-Cola’s case, as well as considering climate change.

William Roedy, president of MTV Networks and chairman of the UN Global Media Aids Initiative, said Davos had taken business attention on climate change ‘to the next level’ but warned that other issues with huge impacts on society, such as the spread of HIV/Aids, were already being forgotten as corporate attention shifted.

Vehicle manufacturer Land Rover has created a board to oversee its carbon dioxide offset programme. Sir Crispin Tickell, a former government adviser on the environment, and Sally Uren, business programme director at Forum for the Future, have been appointed to the board. The company will offset carbon dioxide emissions from its manufacturing plants, and at point of sale will offer customers the option of offsetting emissions arising from vehicle use.

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