Sunday, December 2, 2007

The Bali Communiqué - corporate climate hype

The Bali Communiqué cooked up by the 'Prince of Wales Corporate Leaders Group' as advance hype for the Bali UN Climate Change Conference (Dec 3 to 14) has more than 150 corporations as signatories. It’s an impressive list: Shell, Sun Microsystems, Philips, GE, The Body Shop, Du Pont, Ebay, HSBC, Kodak, Virgin, Nokia, KPMG, Coca Cola .... and a cast of tens more.

The communiqué begins:

"The scientific evidence is now overwhelming. Climate change presents very serious global social, environmental and economic risks and it demands an urgent global response....
And endorses the UN IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, concluding:

We urge world leaders to seize this window of opportunity.
In return, we pledge to engage positively with governments to help develop the policies and measures that are needed internationally and nationally for the business sector to contribute effectively to building a low carbon economy.

So what does it mean?

Most of these companies will not have in-house expertise to independently evaluate the science. So, for the most part, their CEO’s and boards of directors have, for a variety of reasons, chosen to accept and endorse the UN IPCC executive summaries as filtered through the alarmism of Al Gore et al. The variety of reasons will include everything from naive altruism to environmental enthusiasm to corporate advantage and rent-seeking.

Take Ebay for example. It has no expertise in climate science. It’s in the business of collecting commissions for brokering the purchase and sale of stuff over the internet. It would be a foolish waste of time for its executive to focus on anything but its business. Though Ebay does need to worry about such things as the effect of shipping costs on transaction volumes. So while Ebay has no internal expertise for concluding that the "scientific evidence is overwhelming" it would be concerned about the potential effects of climate change policy on its business. And this is true AGW or no AGW. By signing on with a bloc of doomsayers, though, it risks promoting policy changes which will do harm to its business.

General Electric is a different kettle of fish. GE has huge axes to grind. It is heavily invested in nuclear and wind power generation technology as well as in carbon trading (like Du Pont and Al Gore). So, again AGW or no AGW, companies like GE stand to gain big-time from alarmist driven climate change policy.

The Body Shop’s signature on the communiqué is emblematic of the environmentally sensitive participants. Though the controversy surrounding its famously bogus product claims should have disqualified it.

One hundred and fifty signatories, impressive though some of the names may seem, represents a small fraction of the big companies out there. And they bring no new information to the scientific debate.

The Bali Communiqué means ... not much. Though AGW true believers will trumpet it to each other and anyone else who will listen.


Anonymous said...

At the highest level of global corporatism there is a spirit of cooperation with any globalist views which means that you are on side. This is politics and marketing with the acknowledgement that 'their butts' will be covered no matter what happens. Despite this I do believe in global warming but I don't think that mankind is the entire cause nor able to prevent it.
(real conservative)

Bill in Calgary said...

Nothing will happen in Bali other than much talk and promise of more talk. India and China will be there but the political leaders of these giant economies don't believe in AGW and will never sign any binding agreement to do anything but talk more.

If there is some agreement between the western economies, then China and India will just smile as they know more manufacturing will be moving their way. Our loss.

Companies know this but they will sign a communiqué that makes them look good but doesn't commit them to anything.

Anonymous said...

Yup, I agree with you Bill. I think that Bali is a good place for an all expenses paid vacation though? (real conservative)