Business leadership vs. business as usual?

By jlee

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NOTE: Jeremy Hobbs, Oxfam International’s Executive Director will join global business leaders and policy makers at the Copenhagen Business Day debates and is available for interview.

COPENHAGEN, Denmark—Progressive businesses must speak out in support of a strong climate deal or risk letting their head-in-the-sand competitors derail the talks, cautioned Oxfam International today. The warning comes ahead of a series of high-level debates in Copenhagen on the private sector’s role in tackling climate change.

Conflicting voices are emerging from the business community – one calling for ambitious and urgent action and the other for obfuscation and delay. Oxfam is urging progressive business leaders to push wavering governments to show leadership in the climate talks.

“Corporations can open space for negotiators in Copenhagen – or they can close it down,” said Jeremy Hobbs, Oxfam International’s Executive Director. ‘A critical mass of major companies has recognized that averting climate catastrophe and moving towards a low-carbon global economy is a business imperative. We are at a critical juncture, and now is the time for business to call loudly with one voice for a fair, ambitious, and binding global deal,’ said Hobbs.

Some in the private sector have lobbied against policies which threaten business as usual. Just days ago Business Europe, a coalition of national business associations from across the EU, tried to water down the EU’s ambition on emission reductions.

However, an increasing number of well-known companies are working together for ambitious climate policy action at the national and global levels. This includes 16 major US-based consumer brands that make up Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy (BICEP) such as Nike, Timberland, Levi Strauss, Starbucks, and eBay. At a global level, the Corporate Leaders’ Group on Climate Change, created by the Prince of Wales, has organized the Copenhagen Communiqué. This detailed policy statement - signed by the BICEP companies, GE, Siemens, Coca-Cola, Nestle, Procter & Gamble, and over 800 other major companies around the world - calls for ‘an ambitious, robust, and equitable global deal on climate change.’

Dissension in the ranks of the business community over climate policy action was on display in the United States recently, with major companies withdrawing from the US Chamber of Commerce or its board over its opposition to government action on global warming.  This conflict is likely to spill over into the international negotiations in Copenhagen.

The private sector plays a central role in the fight against climate change. An increasing number of companies have taken significant steps to cut their own emissions. While many recognize the importance of securing their own markets and supply chains by helping communities adapt to a changing climate. Business is also helping to create and disseminate technologies to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions around the world.

The Oxfam media team at or:

Laura Rusu +1 202 459 3739 / +447540702656 Angela Corbalan + 32 473 56 22 60 / +447540702661 Natalie Curtis +44 7824 503108 / +447545719702 Anna Mitchell +44 7796 993 288 / +447545719593 Isabel Sande Frandsen +45 60 95 96 69 Binbin Wang +447540702805

Jeremy Hobbs, Oxfam’s Executive Director and Jonathan Jacoby, Oxfam’s Senior Private Sector Advisor will be available for interview. Jeremy Hobbs, Oxfam’s International’s Executive Director will join policy makers and global business leaders from US, Europe and developing countries debate the role of business in delivering an ambitious climate deal

•         Corporate Leaders Group Debate, 12:30 – 14:30, Thursday 10 December at Nero Port, ay Fidskers Plads 9, 2300, Copenhagen S

•         Copenhagen Business Day Panel Debate, 14:00 - 16:00, Friday 11 December

For complete outline of Oxfam COP15 resources and activities including a background briefing on Business and the climate deal go to