In a surprise move, global giants in coal, gas, and other carbon-heavy industries have announced their support for international negotiations on climate change.
This December, the United Nations held a Climate Change conference in Paris, bringing together all 193 recognized countries from around the world to address the growing amount of greenhouse gas emissions. Their difficult task was to “reach a new and universal climate change agreement.” Long a source of controversy, these climate change talks gained some surprising and powerful allies.
“A Critical Opportunity”
According to Bloomberg Business, 14 companies, including top players from the coal world, BHP Billiton Plc. and Rio Tinto Plc., and oil giants Royal Dutch Shell, Plc. and BP Plc., stood together and issued a statement announcing their support for the negotiations. They “recognize the rising environmental, social, economic, and security risks posed by climate change” and called the conference a “critical opportunity”, according to the Center for Climate & Energy Solutions, both for their industry and the world at large.
Each of the 14 companies comes from an energy-intensive industry and has a strong investment in protecting the future of their business: together, they have a combined revenue of $1.1 trillion and employ more than 1.5 million people. Bob Perciasepe, president of the Center for Climate & Energy Solutions, which helped organize the statement, noted “these are companies with real skin in the game.”
Support for International Consensus
Their statement is ground-breaking for both the energy industries and the climate change movement. While the climate deal could mean new taxes and regulations on their products, the coalition recognizes that there are also significant economic opportunities for the industries, particularly in the area of natural gas.
The statement provided further insight as to why these companies are supporting an agreement. For one thing, they hoped the conference will conclude with clearer direction for where they should “shift their long-term investments toward energy efficiency and other lower-carbon alternatives” based on international regulations that might be coming down the line.
Additionally, they hoped the agreement would keep the international playing field level by engaging all the world’s big economic players in the discussion and asking them to abide by the same rules and regulations. Countries should be transparent about what their policies and regulations and all major economies should be in agreement to avoid allowing unfair advantages for some countries or companies and not others.
Implementing Environmentally Sound Practices
It’s becoming more and more important for companies in all industries to consider their role in impacting the environment, whether that includes climate change or not. While it’s still unclear what kind of new rules and regulations might come out of the Paris meetings and when they’ll be implemented, now is the time for action. The coal industry can invest resources in more environmentally friendly practices now to show their priorities and avoid possible fines in the future.
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(Main image credit: Asitaka San/flickr)