Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

G8 business chiefs spar over climate change

World business chiefs gathered in Tokyo on Thursday to discuss ways to tackle global warming as transatlantic tensions emerged over how far industry should go to reduce emissions.

The heads of the business federations of the Group of Eight (G8) industrialised nations agreed that climate change needs serious attention.

But in a joint statement issued after the one-day meeting they said companies should not be ”unduly penalised by unbalanced policy measures that would divert resources away from investments in innovation”.

Earlier in the gathering divisions emerged over whether companies are doing enough and how to respond to the problem.

”The question is not any more, ‘Should we go for it?’ The question now is, ‘How can we do it?”’ Laurence Parisot, president of the French Business Confederation, said of the need to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.

”France alone, or even the European Union alone, cannot solve everything. It seems to us, maybe we are wrong, but your commitment to this issue is not as high as we expect,” she told her United States counterpart during a panel discussion.

US Chamber of Commerce chairperson Paul Speranza Jnr, however, insisted that his country was committed to the fight, pointing to President George Bush’s call on Wednesday to stop the growth of US greenhouse-gas emissions by 2025.

But he added: ”We have to be mindful that we don’t want to hurt jobs. We don’t want to hurt economies. But we can go as quickly as technology will allow us to go. Americans sometimes are slow to get started, but once we do get started we probably will be up front.”

The Bush administration rejected the Kyoto treaty on global warming for its failure to apply binding gas targets on fast-growing China and India.

Japan, the current G8 chair, is home to the Kyoto Protocol, but it is far behind in meeting its own obligations as it recovers from a recession in the 1990s.

The government has so far refused to bind legally companies to cap gas emissions, fearing that it could jeopardise the Japanese economy’s slow recovery.

Cooperation from the business world is seen to be one of the keys in meeting the goal to tackle climate change.

”There are many ways to reduce greenhouse-gas emission, but the bottom line is [that it’s best] to do so through technological innovation,” said Fujio Mitarai, chairperson of the Japan Business Federation, which favours a sector-by-sector approach to reducing emissions.

Japan plans to put climate change high on the agenda for the G8 summit that it will host in July.

”Now is the time for not only politicians and industry but also individuals to recognise that humanity faces a turning point and to start taking action,” Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda said in a speech at the start of the meeting. ”The industrial sector must not forget that it is the main emitter of greenhouse gases.”

Tokyo hopes the G8 summit — grouping Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the US — will give direction to negotiations on drafting the next global treaty on fighting climate change by the end of 2009. — Sapa-AFP

Subscribe for R500/year

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them and get a 57% discount in your first year.

Related stories


If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here


Subscribers only

Family wants clarity on SANDF soldier killed in friendly fire...

Corporal Simanga Khuselo join the peacekeeping mission in the DRC to save money to build his family a home

SA soldiers have been fighting in a distant land for...

Troops were sent to the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2001 as part of the UN peacekeeping mission that became an offensive against rebels

More top stories

Despite inflation risks, the monetary policy committee keeps rates on...

Inflation rose well beyond the Reserve Bank’s midpoint target in August

Sasol commits to net zero ambition by 2050, triples 2030...

But Sasol shouldn’t rely on natural gas a transition fuel, say civil society organisations

ActionSA wants pro-poor, business-friendly metros

Branding itself as a corruption busting party, ActionSA said it will establish dedicated independent forensics units in each of its municipalities, with the mandate to investigate all potential corrupt activities

‘We are focused on the local government elections,’ ANC tells...

The organisation has sent another letter to staff members saying that salaries for July, August and September will not be paid on 25 September

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…