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Market has Got it Wrong on Climate Change: Gore

Business leaders from across the world are meeting in Copenhagen this week to discuss tackling climate change. They hope to influence world leaders who will decide in December on a follow up to the Kyoto agreement.

Former Vice President Al Gore speaks during Live Earth concert, a 24-hour global concert series to raise awareness about climate change, at the National Museum of the American Indian, Saturday, July 7, 2007, in Washington.  (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Manuel Balce Ceneta
Former Vice President Al Gore speaks during Live Earth concert, a 24-hour global concert series to raise awareness about climate change, at the National Museum of the American Indian, Saturday, July 7, 2007, in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Former US Vice President Al Gore kicked off the summit with a key note speech in which he warned that the true cost of pollution is being miss-priced by the market.

Gore welcomed the decision of US President Barack Obama to impose new fuel efficiency standards on the auto industry and praised the President’s vision in attempting to pass the controversial climate change bill. A bill which aims to significantly reduce the amount of C02 that America generates by 2020.

Gore warned that this had to pass, telling delegates that “the clock is ticking because Mother Nature doesn't do bailouts.”

As lawmakers consider a bill on Capitol Hill, delegates in Denmark are cautiously optimistic that a viable plan can be put in place that will give businesses the policy clarity they need to make investment decisions.

Connie Hedegaard, Denmark’s minister of climate & energy told CNBC: “It's rather extraordinary how business people are asking us politicians for regulation. They are saying give us a framework, give us a global price on carbon, give us a carbon trade that can be linked together.”

Whilst many believe that attempts to cut carbon emissions could lead to a straightjacket being put on the global economy at a time when we are facing the worst recession in a generation, CEOs on the ground told CNBC that there is a big opportunity for business in the climate change story.

Unilever boss Paul Polman told CNBC’s Geoff Cutmore that: “All the things were talking about here don’t need additional costs. If we approach this from a business point of view then these opportunities are as good, if not better than they’ve ever been.”

His optimism was shared by Carl-Henric Svanberg from Ericsson who believes the any major changes in CO2 emissions “cannot be done without serious deployment of new technology.”

What is clear is that business wants to influence any decision taken at the CO-15 meeting in December.

Indra Nooyi from PepsiCo, who flew into Copenhagen for 3 and half hours to attend a key note session, summed up the feelings of many saying “the worst outcome which we fear is a policy that comes down from government. There is no time to wait for governments to tell us what to do."

Video Highlights from the World Business Summit on Climate Change:

  • Carl-Henric Svanberg, CEO of Ericsson >>>
  • Connie Hedegaard, minister of climate and energy in Denmark >>>
  • Mats Jansson, CEO of SAS Group >>>
  • James Cameron, vice chairman and executive director of Climate Change Capital, and Paul Dickinson, chief executive of Carbon Disclosure Project >>>
  • Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever >>>
  • Ditlev Engel, CEO of Vestas, and Dr Steve Lennon, MD of Eskom >>>
  • Philippe Joubert, president of Alstom Power >>>
  • Tim Flannery, chairman of Copenhagen Climate Council >>>
  • Zhengrong Shi, chairman of Suntech Power >>>

Contact Europe: Economy

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