Carbon Challenge

CNBC Carbon Council – What Business Thinks of COP

As global leaders prepare for December's Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, CNBC is speaking to heads of business from around the world to reflect on the summit, discuss plans for reducing emissions and investment opportunities.

Nine business leaders make up the CNBC Carbon Council, which is an exclusive initiative aimed identifying opportunities for both businesses and investors. Read on to find out some of their key views.

SAP CEO Léo Apotheker:

I believe that technology (and information technology, in particular) is the key for more transparency and clarity around each company’s environmental footprint.

This is not about government regulation alone; consumers around the world are also demanding accountability from business today. It’s important to understand that the business case for energy efficiency, resource productivity and more sustainable products for consumers work today – with or without regulation.

Government must provide certainty on basic issues such as boundary settings, calculation methods, and target setting. With appropriate measurement and reporting, enabled by IT, we can focus abatement not only within the firm, but also look at opportunities to optimize along the whole value chain.

Bold action now will lead to a better future. Businesses, NGOs, and governments – in a unified manner – can both solve climate change and set the conditions for innovation creating enduring global prosperity.

Syngenta CEO Mike Mack:

Climate change has an impact on agriculture. Higher temperatures eventually reduce yields of desirable crops while encouraging weed and pest proliferation.

Agricultural systems actually provide the largest readily achievable gains in carbon storage. It is estimated that the total of human-made Greenhouse gas emissions related to agriculture is approximately 15 Gt (gigatons or 1 billion tons), half of which comes from land conversion.

But if best management practices were widely adopted, such as stopping the land conversion of new habitats into agricultural land and improving agricultural practices to store carbon in the soil, the emissions can be halved and some 5.5–6 Gts of CO2 can be sequestered per year by 2030.

About 90 percent of this potential could be achieved through carbon sink enhancement and some 10 percent from emission reductions.

Applied Materials CFO Mike Splinter:

We're certainly expanding our clean energy practice, particularly in solar. Most of our sales are into China and Europe where the market seems to be growing.

In the current market environment, we can make our business profitable. Certainly other companies can as well with the current incentives that are available in Europe and the US and are growing in China and India. I think those things are going to continue and allow the market to grow and allow companies to be profitable. But we're not going to see that wholesale change until we have a bigger climate agreement.

What we'd really like to see is much broader deployment of clean energy and other manufacturing technologies, and certainly a stronger dollar is helpful in that regard.

Check back to hear from:

DuPont Chairman Chad Holliday
Vattenfall CEO Lars G. Josefsson
Exelon CEO John Rowe
SunTech Power CEO Dr Zhengrong Shi
CA Chairman William McCracken
Akzo Nobel CEO Hans Wijers