Even Coal-Mining Giants Now Want a Climate-Change Deal This Year

  • BHP, Rio Tinto, Alcoa, Shell backing UN greenhouse-gas deal
  • The 14 companies have `real skin in the game': climate group

Calling for action on climate change is as trendy as it gets for corporations these days. But the latest businesses to declare support for a global deal on greenhouse gases may turn some heads.

The 14 companies that issued a joint statement Wednesday endorsing international negotiations include leaders from some of the world’s most carbon-intensive industries: coal miners BHP Billiton Plc and Rio Tinto Plc; oil majors Royal Dutch Shell Plc and BP Plc; aluminum producer Alcoa Inc.; and the planet’s biggest cement-maker, LarfargeHolcim Ltd

Along with a mix of power utilities, industrial-equipment makers and technology companies, the businesses are backing a United Nations effort that’s set to conclude in Paris in December with an agreement among almost 200 nations to rein in fossil fuel emissions blamed for warming the climate. The negotiations are “a critical opportunity" to lay out a path toward “progressively decarbonizing the global economy," according to the statement.

Paris Agreement

“These are companies with real skin in the game -- either they’re large emitters or their products are," said Bob Perciasepe, president of the Center for Climate & Energy Solutions, a Arlington, Virginia-based group that helped organize the joint announcement. The businesses “support a Paris agreement that gets all the major economies on board, provides stronger long-term direction and holds countries accountable.”

A climate deal could eventually mean new taxes and regulations on products central to the companies’ business models -- at BHP, the world’s largest miner, coal accounted for 14 percent of sales in the year ending June 30, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. In the statement, companies said they needed a clear direction from world leaders to guide long-term investments and transparency to ensure all countries were applying the same rules to emissions.

“We recognize the rising environmental, social, economic, and security risks posed by climate change, and that delaying action will result in greater risks and costs," according to the statement. “An effective response to climate change requires strong government leadership, and presents both enormous challenges and significant economic opportunities for the private sector."

The statement was also joined by Alstom SA, Calpine Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co., Intel Corp., National Grid Plc, PG&E, Corp., Schneider Electric SE and Siemens AG. The companies have combined revenues of $1.1 trillion and more than 1.5 million employees, according to a separate statement from the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions.

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