|LONDON - Big business added its voice on Thursday to a growing crescendo of calls on the governments of the world's richest nations to take urgent action to curb potentially catastrophic global warming.|
The call follows a similar appeal from the world's top scientists and comes four weeks before leaders of the Group of Eight -- along with China, Brazil, South Africa, India and Mexico -- meet in Scotland to discuss the climate crisis.
"We share the belief that climate change poses one of the most significant challenges of the 21st century," said moguls from multinationals including car maker Ford, airline British Airways, bank HSBC, electricity generator EdF and oil major BP.
"We agree that the science is sufficiently compelling to warrant action by both the private and public sector, and ... action must be initiated now," the business moguls said in a statement issued in London.
While most scientists agree the burning of fossil fuels for transport and to generate electricity is a major contributor to potentially catastrophic climate change, the United States under President George W. Bush is unconvinced and antagonistic.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair has made tackling global warming, with its rising sea levels, increases in droughts and floods and threats to the lives of millions of the world's poorest people, a key goal of his 2005 presidency of the G8.
The G8 Climate Change Roundtable -- the name under which the leaders of the 23 firms behind Thursday's statement worked -- called for the summit on July 6-8 near Edinburgh to set out a global plan of action.
This plan should have a clear framework, a long lifetime, set specific targets and involve everyone from consumers to business, charities and governments.
To the dismay of environmental lobby groups, a leaked draft last month of the climate change declaration due from the summit at Gleneagles contained neither targets nor timetables.
The business leaders said governments must use public procurement to ram home the message of climate change, promote low carbon technology, share information and push for environment friendly economic growth in developing countries.
"With properly designed programs and incentives, we can unleash the power of the market to accelerate the deployment of low carbon technologies engaging both producers and consumers alike," they said.
Environmental lobby group Friends of the Earth warmly welcomed the statement.
"Just a few years ago large international business and the environment groups were on opposite sides of the fence. This statement shows just how far big business has moved. Now we are more or less on the same page," FoE chief Tony Juniper said.
Story by Jeremy Lovell
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE