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Copenhagen Business Day highlights role of business in tackling climate change

World Cement,

On 17 December, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development led a meeting between business leaders and ministers from developed and developing countries at which WBCSD President Bjorn Stigson issued a stark warning to the ministers: 'You will not solve climate change without business at the table as an engaged, involved partner – Governments cannot deliver on the targets which are being talked about without business.'

His comments follow those of UNFCCC secretary general, Yvo De Boer, who challenged a packed hall of business leaders and media at the Copenhagen Business Day last Friday to come together and articulate, with a single and coherent voice, what it can contribute or risk being sidelined.

The Copenhagen Business Day, the third such gathering of its kind for global businesses, attracted unprecedented interest. Twenty-five chief executives, representing some of the world's largest businesses across multiple sectors, joined more than 400 participants, primarily from the global business community. The 'mood of the room' was one of great energy, and a readiness and willingness to get moving and implement actions.

The Business Day underlined five key messages from business to governments:

  • Responsible business supports the need for action and is not standing in government's way.
  • Trust needs to be built. Strong actions by business in the future depend on a trustful relation between governments and business. Business wants clarity and stability in the regulatory framework. Uncertainty increases risks and will slow down actions.
  • Markets are crucial and key tools for implementation. There are market failures that need to be corrected by proper regulations to support the demand for green solutions. And the most important element is a global carbon price.
  • New public-private partnerships are needed. Reaching the mid-term and long-term emissions reduction targets expressed by G8, G20 and individual governments will require new public-private partnerships.
  • Business must have a role in the design of the institutions and mechanisms that will be needed to deliver whatever political consensus is reached this week. This will ensure their efficiency and effectiveness in implementation.

Stigson continued: 'The green race is on. The future world will be increasingly resource and carbon constrained. The key to unlocking a low-carbon economy is to define the business case for profitable business actions.'

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