No its not a scientific get-together, but its big business being given unprecedented access to the UN climate negotiations, in cohorts with the hosts of the December meeting, the Danish government.
The event is called the World Business Summit on Climate Change. Log onto the website of the Summit and you will believe that Conference is crucial in sorting out an agreement before December. The Conference is “Your last chance to influence the next global treaty on climate change,” it claims.
Connie Hedegaard, the Danish Minister of Climate and Energy argues: “We, the politicians of the world, have a responsibility to reach a truly global climate change agreement in Copenhagen in December 2009. But it is the business society that can deliver the tools to turn our vision into reality. Businesses can provide the clever solutions to make it possible to live in a both modern and sustainable society.”
Many people would disagree with the principle that turning to Pepsi, BP and Shell for the tools to solve climate is the right idea.
A new report by Corporate Europe Observatory describes how flawed this approach is: “It’s not that the chief executives do not speak in anguish about the climate crisis. It’s their proposals that are worrying. The main players among those present all put their weight behind a number of proposals that in elegant ways will allow large companies to continue on the same track; “business as usual””.
“So, although the Danish Government supposedly wants to get business support for an “ambitious” climate agreement, it is hard to imagine anything other than the reverse as the result of a close alliance with big business – an agreement so full of loopholes and uncertainties that even ambitious reduction targets could end up as almost nothing”.
Amongst the 1,000 or so business leaders from around the world who will fly in to the event, will be leading players and business lobby groups with a disturbing record of working to weaken international climate agreements. CEO argues that “The Danish government’s approach is a threat to the prospects of an ambitious climate agreement in Copenhagen at the end of this year.”
Yet the conference will still be attended by Danish royalty, Al Gore, and Ban Ki-moon, the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
CEO argues that “By placing a large bet on “international business” in the run up to the climate summit, the Danish Government has opened doors to business lobbyists in a way in which the lobbyists could only have dreamt of beforehand. Industry has lobbied for years for self-regulation and the right to make use of various extensive loopholes, allowing them to continue producing as before. Now they are given the best possible means to form international climate policy in their interests.”
It looks like a “serious political blunder if a government believes it can use companies like Shell, BP and Vattenfall to persuade the more reluctant governments, including the US, to conclude an “ambitious” agreement.”
“So, rather than clearing the way for an ambitious agreement, the Government has with its commitment to the World Business Summit helped build a powerful coalition of companies and business coalitions, that could undermine the efficiency of a new agreement.”
CEO argues that the World Business Summit must be challenged. “This enhanced role for industry is an issue that must be followed closely by NGOs and social movements in the coming months. The platform, the Danish Government has built for the big players in the global economy must be removed immediately, and the debate turned effectively away from the question of what the industry believes can raise profits, and to what is necessary for the future of the globe.”
But then the slogan of the conference is “turning risks into opportunities” … .