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Business leaders make case for building a global low-carbon economy


On opening day of COP16, CEOs of leading global multinationals and the head of WWF joined together to emphasize the urgency of building a low-carbon economy for our global prosperity, health, security and safety. While expectations for COP16 may be dampened from those in Copenhagen, these business leaders showcased the depth and breadth of business commitment to action against climate change as they outlined what they are already doing and how governmental leadership and civil society collaboration can help to accelerate and scale impact.

The 'Business Action for Climate 2010' event featured a keynote address by His Excellency, President Felipe Calderon, United States of Mexico, remarks by Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary, UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and a panel discussion of business and NGO leaders moderated by Charlie Rose with Muhtar Kent, Chairman and CEO, The Coca-Cola Company, Andrew Liveris, Chairman and CEO, The Dow Chemical Company, James E. Rogers, Chairman, President, and CEO, Duke Energy, José Antonio Fernández, Chairman and CEO, FEMSA, and Carter Roberts, President and CEO, WWF-US. Also in attendance will be Ms. Patricia Espinosa Cantellano, Secretary of Foreign Affairs of Mexico and Mr. Juan Rafael Elvira Quesada, Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources of Mexico.

His Excellency President Felipe Calderon opened the event with remarks that reinforced the focus of the evening - evolution to a low carbon economy that is critical to our global prosperity, health, security and safety. 'It is possible to have economic growth and at the same time it is possible to fight climate change. It is possible to fight climate change and at the same time it is possible to mitigate climate emissions,' he said. 'The key issue is to find the way towards clean development.'

The participants stated that climate talks in Cancun are an important step forward in the evolution to a clean energy economy that is critical to our global prosperity, health, security and safety. With the global economy struggling, the CEOs shared how building the global clean economy can be the engine of our economic recovery by reducing energy expenditures through energy efficiency, by retooling manufacturing facilities and distribution processes to use cleaner energy technologies, and by launching whole new industries.

'Now is the time for business, government and civil society to truly take the lead in driving innovation and helping move the planet toward a lower carbon future that supports economic development and job growth,' said Muhtar Kent, Chairman and CEO, The Coca-Cola Company. 'The good news is that many of the solutions are already available, but we need to create conditions for private sector investment and innovation to thrive.'

The business leaders emphasized that business - with all of its technological, human and capital resources - can and must be a part of the solution, along with governments and civil society. They seek real progress by governments to put in place the policy frameworks and financing initiatives at the global, national, and sub-national levels to provide the predictability needed to unleash private investment for building the clean economy.

'We have the technologies for a global clean economy, but they will not deploy in significant numbers without greater public policy certainty and incentives,' said Andrew Liveris, Chairman and CEO, The Dow Chemical Company. 'Even without the optimal policy environment, however, we are investing in energy efficiency, in research, development and the deployment of clean technologies, and we are designing innovative financing mechanisms to support investments.'

'Transformational progress can only be achieved when business, government, and civil society are working together to incentivize breakthrough solutions - whether those are technologies, policies, or new business models,' said José Antonio Fernandez, Chairman and CEO of FEMSA. 'We already have seen how the Mexican Government's leadership on promoting a low-carbon growth path has enabled our successful investments in significant renewable energy generation for our facilities.'

The discussion comes at a critical time for both policy makers and business leaders. 'The recent election in the United States has changed our political landscape, but the need for a comprehensive federal energy policy must still be one of our top national priorities,' said Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers. 'We need clearer federal policies that support cleaner and more efficient energy across the board - including cleaner coal, advanced nuclear, electric vehicles, natural gas, smart grid, wind and solar. The sooner we get those signals, the faster we can put more private capital to work and create jobs.'

For live stream of the event, please go to www.livestream.com/wclimate.

The event was hosted by the major business organizations participating at COP16 including the Climate Group, Green Solutions, UN Global Compact, World Business Council on Sustainable Development, and the World Climate Summit, and supported by the World Economic Forum Climate Change Initiative.

The World Climate Summit is hosting a business and finance conference accelerating solutions to climate change on December 4-5, in Cancun, Mexico. This new, open and collaborative summit is the beginning of a 10-year framework that will support business, finance, and government leaders with designing and implementing solutions locally and globally, setting the world on a clean and prosperous path by 2020.

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