Commentary: How to distinguish hype from reality in climate action by businesses

Author: Andrew Simms, New Economics Foundation, on Guardian (UK), Published on: 17 June 2015

"Business and climate: the hype and the reality", 17 June 2015

You wait decades for business leaders to address climate change, then 43 global CEOs call for concrete action all at once...with familiar names in corporate sustainability circles, such as engineering firm Arup, retailer Marks & Spencer, re-insurers Munich Re and multinational consumer goods giant Unilever. But the list also included Sinar Mas, a major player in the global palm oil industry linked to deforestation...On trend, the so-called “long silence” on climate change of many of the oil majors came to an end in May. Royal Dutch Shell, Total, BP, Statoil and Eni among others, but excluding the US majors ExxonMobil and Chevron, launched a high profile industry-wide initiative to coordinate their engagement with the climate debate...If leadership is about taking others with you...the big US players are being left behind, with talk of a widening riftExxon’s CEO, for one, actively touts the “climate benefits” of shale gas...“Of course, there are some businesses doing everything in their power to tackle environmental issues,” says Andy Rowell, director of Spinwatch. “But for the vast majority it’s business as usual. If they were serious, we would be seeing rapid disinvestment from oil and gas.” James Marriott, author of The Oil Road, agrees:..."The acid test for business leadership on sustainability will be when they tell us to consume less of what they produce, so we can all live well and equitably within our planetary means. No credible industry leaders have yet come forward to take up this challenge. [Also refers to Cuadrilla Resources, Shell]

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Related companies: Arup B&Q (part of Kingfisher) BP Chevron Cuadrilla Eni Equinor (formerly Statoil) ExxonMobil Formula One Group Kingfisher Marks & Spencer Munich Re Royal Dutch Shell (Shell) Sinar Mas Group Stagecoach Group Total Unilever