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Davos Business Leaders Urge Global Support for Copenhagen Accord

By James Murray
BusinessGreen.com
With a flurry of submissions to the Copenhagen Accord expected over the next few days, business groups signal their support for ambitious emission targets. Some of the world's most powerful businesses have today called on world leaders gathered at the World Economic Forum in Davos to embrace the Copenhagen Accord and use it to spur a "race to the top" that would see national, state and municipal governments compete to take more ambitious action to tackle climate change.

With a flurry of submissions to the Copenhagen Accord expected over the next few days, business groups signal their support for ambitious emission targets.

Some of the world's most powerful businesses have today called on world leaders gathered at the World Economic Forum in Davos to embrace the Copenhagen Accord and use it to spur a "race to the top" that would see national, state and municipal governments compete to take more ambitious action to tackle climate change.

A group of six international business groups - Climate Group, Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy (BICEP), Carbon Markets & Investors Association (CMIA), Clean Economy Network, Combat Climate Change (3C) and Copenhagen Climate Council - which together represent over 200 multinational firms, will today issue an open letter to world leaders demanding they deliver the "clarity and certainty" necessary to drive the transition to a low-carbon economy.

The letter will call on all governments to set ambitious medium and long-term emission-reduction targets; introduce market and financing mechanisms that incentivise businesses to invest in low-carbon activities; tighten links with businesses in order to better understand the compelling commercial case for action on climate change; and deliver a binding international climate change treaty by the end of this year.

"Smart business knows that taking climate action makes good business sense; it is prudent risk management and creates significant opportunities," said Steve Howard, chief executive of the Climate Group and Chair of the World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council on Climate Change. "Because industry is the primary driver of jobs and economic growth – and also for cutting global emissions – governments must give business the right tools and incentives to do the job at the scale and speed we need to safeguard our future climate, security and economic prosperity."

The move comes just days after the Prince of Wales' Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change issued a similar letter to EU leaders urging them to move to a more ambitious emission-reduction target for 2020 of a 30 per cent cut on 1990 levels.

It also arrives just days ahead of the 31 January deadline for governments to submit emission targets and climate change action plans to the annex included in the Copenhagen Accord that was brokered at last month's Copenhagen Summit.

The UN's top climate change official, Yvo De Boer, said last week that the 31 January cutoff was a "soft deadline" and that countries could submit their plans after the date.

However, it is still regarded as a major test of the Accord's effectiveness and a flurry of submissions are expected in the coming days as countries seek to formalise their support for the agreement.

Speaking to BusinessGreen.com, a spokeswoman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change said the EU was expected to submit its targets tomorrow, while the BASIC group of Brazil, India, China and South Africa has also signalled it will present action plans before the deadline.

She added that the US, Japan, Australia and other major emitters were also expected to submit targets by the end of the week that will be largely in line with the 2020 emission targets they announced ahead of the Copenhagen Summit.

"Most countries will make their move quite close to the deadline," she said. "We're also expecting a few groupings of countries to meet after the deadline and make submissions soon after."

Under the Accord – which was brokered in the frantic final hours of the Copenhagen Summit by the US and the BASIC countries, and was subsequently supported by the EU and other major emitters – signatories will commit to limiting global temperature rises to two degrees and agree to adhere to national emissions targets for industrialised nations and detailed climate action plans for developing countries.

While it was widely criticised by environmental groups as woefully unambitious, it is still likely to form the basis for on-going negotiations as countries attempt to deliver a legally binding climate change agreement at this year's UN climate change summit in Mexico in December.

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