Davos feels the heat

The greens are plagued by red tape - but at least local business leaders are waking up to climate change.
Davos feels the heat
By James Bennett
Sun 04 Feb 2007 12:00 AM

The annual Davos conference has come to an end for another year, but as always with these marathon mega-meetings between some of the most influential global political and business figures, the question remains has anything really been achieved?

The answer sadly begins with both a ‘y’ and an ‘n’, and as Jeffrey R Immelt, the chairman and CEO of General Electric told me last week after having met the ruler of Dubai, “Nothing happens in those big meetings so I don’t go”. So I wasn’t holding out much hope.

On a positive note, however, worldwide climate change was discussed at length with a new body, the Climate Disclosure Standards Board (CDSB), being unveiled in order to create a framework for the standardised reporting of climate risk-related issues by global corporations. This has been set up to encourage members of the partnership to request information from companies to ensure that they disclose climate change-related information in their annual reports.

But is the CDSB merely another body created to fight more red tape and to look as though it’s attempting to tackle the massive issue of climate change? It could well be, especially as it aims to incorporate a mass of other bodies including (take a deep breath) the California Climate Action Registry, Carbon Disclosure Project, Ceres, The Climate Group, International Emissions Trading Association, World Economic Forum Global Greenhouse Gas Register, and World Resources Institute.

These bodies are allegedly fighting for the same changes in business and consumer behaviour to take place so that the effects of climate change on the planet can be lessened for future generations. With so many of them, so much administration and bureaucracy, however, I can imagine little will get done and ideas and actions will get tangled and even lost in the maze.

But then again perhaps as Musaed Al-Saleh, vice chairman and CEO of National Projects Holding Company, the business behind Dubai Recycling Park says, “time will tell whether the CDSB will make a real difference”. With Al-Saleh and other Middle Eastern business leaders in attendance at Davos and keeping a close watch on the region’s slow but growing environmental progress, let’s hope he’s right and that future investments come in the form of environmentally sound business opportunities.

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