Seven leading firms form new climate change partnership
Author: Patrick Connole
The firms, which were joined in making the announcement by U.S. advocacy group Environmental Defence, said they would "champion market-based mechanisms, such as trading pollution credits for taking early and credible action on reducing emissions blamed by many scientists for global warming.
The new group, called the Partnership for Climate Action, is composed of heavyweights from the energy, chemical and commodities industries.
The charter members include world number two and three oil giants Royal Dutch/Shell and BP Amoco ; the world's second and third largest aluminum makers Canadian Alcan and French Pechiney ; the No. 1 U.S. chemicals company DuPont ; Canada's second-largest oil sands producer Suncor Energy Inc ; and Ontario Power Generation, the dominant power company in the province and one of the biggest in North America.
The world's governments meet next month in the Hague to hammer out ways to implement the controversial Kyoto Protocol: the 1997 treaty which mandates major industrialised nations cut greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by 2008-2012.
Sceptics, notably in the U.S. Congress, do not like the Kyoto Protocol, saying the targeted cuts would force major upheaval in the American economy as fossil fuel use is reduced, and balk at the lack of participation by developing nations like India and China in the emissions quota system.
Earlier yesterday, a new European study said the European Union - which is as keen to finalise a Kyoto pact as the United States is indifferent - would miss a legally binding target to cut carbon dioxide emissions because it lacks the policies to combat the greenhouse effect.
The Clinton administration favours market-based emissions trading as a way for the United States to enter into a workable Kyoto Protocol, but has not submitted the treaty for Senate ratification pending finalisation of the agreement's terms.
Each company in the new partnership has already set a firm target for greenhouse gas reductions. Targets would result in an annual reduction of at least 90 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2010, according to Environmental Defence.
Each of the seven companies also agreed to measure and publicly report its emissions, and employ independent, outside experts to monitor and verify its emissions reductions programmes.
"The goal is to share learning and highlight the value of solid, market-oriented rules, which will encourage even more companies to step forward and reduce pollution," said Fred Krupp, executive director of Environmental Defence.
The annual 1990 emissions of the partnership members are 360 million metric tons, placing them among the top 15 industrialised countries in terms of emissions.