24 September 2007
Press Conference

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

press conference on release of survey by carbon disclosure project

The request by the Carbon Disclosure Project survey that companies disclose their carbon footprint was helping them identify areas in which they could improve profitably, Mark Goldfuss, Head of Public Policy at financial services firm Merrill Lynch, said at Headquarters this afternoon.

One of several participants at a press conference on the release of the Project’s fifth annual survey, he said:  “We have become markedly better at measuring our carbon footprint than we were in the first year of CDP.  Better measurement has led to better management.”  The trade in carbon credits was making it profitable for companies to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.  “Astute investors can do well for shareholders -- and good for society -- by applying our capital, both intellectual and financial, to environmental solutions,” he said.  Merril Lynch is a partner in the Carbon Disclosure Project.

A private effort non-profit organization encouraging corporations to develop strategies for dealing with climate change, the Carbon Disclosure Project represents 315 investors with assets of $41 trillion.  The Project also aims to get companies to evaluate the risks and opportunities with which Government regulation in response to climate change might present them, said Paul Dickinson, the Project’s Chief Executive.  “The solution to the problem of climate change, which I think is a very serious problem, is a combination of Government action and private sector action,” he said, adding that the biggest wish of private actors at the moment was for clarity on future regulations planned by Governments.

Also speaking briefly at the press conference was Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt of Sweden, who underscored the seriousness with which Nordic countries regarded climate change.  “I still feel the finger from Al Gore pointed at me 15 minutes ago just to take more responsibility to act,” he added, noting that the response rate of Swedish companies to the survey was over 70 per cent this year.  That provided policymakers, investors and companies themselves with data that would allow them to measure and subsequently manage their emissions.

Another participant at the press conference was Brad Irwin, President of the confectionery company Cadbury Adams, who said, “The old adage ‘What gets measured gets done’ is true here, too”, while acknowledging the Project’s role in placing the management of climate change on the mainstream business agenda.  Cadbury Adams had ambitious goals for halving its carbon dioxide emissions by 2020.  “It’s good for the environment, and it’s good for business.”

Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and moderator of the press conference, said:  “Here you have an example of how public policy and international dialogue begins to drive markets, and how markets need information.”

Rana Kapoor, Chief Executive Officer of India’s YesBank, taking questions from the floor, highlighted the opportunity of developing nations to leapfrog ahead with environmentally sustainable technology, not just out of idealistic notions, but out of economic necessity.  “We cannot afford $80 a barrel, we cannot afford many of the other implications of such high energy costs,” he said.

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For information media • not an official record