Activists lock climate laggards out of business summit

Feature story - 18 May, 2011
This morning in Brussels, more than 170 Greenpeace activists challenged companies in Europe to take more ambitious access on climate change by blocking access to delegates arriving at the European Business Summit: 'Europe in the world: leading or lagging?'

Image: Philip Reyanaers

Activists in business suits used modified brief cases to lock the conference centre doors and welcoming only delegates representing businesses that support a 30 percent cut in Europe’s climate damaging emissions, while refusing entry to companies that oppose tougher climate targets.

Despite a strong business imperative for an ambitious EU climate target, companies like Microsoft, BP, Volkswagen and Maersk are responsible for holding back Europe’s green economy. However, major companies such as Google, Unilever, Danone, Philips and Allianz are doing the right thing by demanding an EU climate target of 30 percent by 2020 compared to 1990 levels. These companies clearly understand the needs to provide certainty for investment into a green economy so that Europe can continue to compete globally. Competitors in China and the US have made major investments into clean technologies and are already gaining a significant lead in these modern sectors.

Dimitris Ibrahim, Head of Greenpeace’s European Climate and Energy Campaign said: “Businesses hold a huge sway over governments. Major companies hiring lobbyists or using business associations to sabotage better climate targets is the opposite of leadership. European businesses must choose between being laggards that undermine European competitiveness or leaders supporting a modern green economy through a 30 percent EU climate target.”

In June, Environment Ministers will discuss the EU’s outdated climate target. Worldwide, governments are keeping a close eye on whether the European target will be increased before the UN climate negotiations in South Africa in November.

report from March 2011, commissioned by the German Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety and conducted by researchers from across Europe found that a 30 percent climate target can increase our chances of preventing dangerous climate change, trigger investment in Europe’s green economy and increase European gross domestic product by €620 billion by 2020.

This month big brands such as IKEA, MANGO and PPR Group (with a portfolio of brands including Puma and Gucci), joined the movement of progressive climate leaders.

Greenpeace is calling on the European business community to follow their lead and publicly speak out in favour of innovation and green growth and to support an unconditional, domestic 30 percent emission cut by 2020, compared to 1990 levels.

Before that, seven environment ministers have also publicly called for a 30 percent target, along with the European Parliament. This should be a first step towards a future 40 percent emission target for all developed countries, consistent with keeping global temperature increase well below two degrees Celsius and avoiding the catastrophic effects of climate change.

Take a look the climate leaders and laggards in EU business by clicking here!