BEC's response to IPCC report

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: Global Temperature to Rise 4 Degree Celsius by this Century, Human Actions are "Very Likely" the Cause

Business Environment Council Urges Government and Business to Tackle Global Warming


The Business Environment Council (BEC) urged policy makers and business leaders to lead the fight against global warming by taking proactive measures to reduce the impact of carbon emissions associated with our economic development. This was remarked in response to Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)'s 4th report issued last week concluding that human actions are "very likely" the cause of global warming.

Dr Andrew Thomson, CEO of the Business Environment Council had the following to say about the report. "This issue has now been reviewed in depth by the world's top climate scientists, and the findings provide an authoritative and definitive position, which can no longer be challenged." He added, "Science is telling us that 'Business as Usual' is not an option, so we must now work in a focused manner to find viable development alternatives."

Compared with previous reports, IPCC's 4th report pulls no punches about the consequences of inaction, and coming hard on the heels of the UK Stern report is a clear indicator that climate change is one of the top geo-political issues of our time," said Dr Thomson. He added that he expected increasing pressure on all sectors of the community to reduce climate related emissions, and anticipated increasing regulations, initially internationally to lead the way.

As an association of leading responsible business, BEC has pioneering members who are taking voluntary initiatives in reducing carbon emissions. One of the solid examples is the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC)'s carbon neutrality program. HSBC became the world's first bank to achieve carbon neutrality in 2005. Their Carbon Management Plan consists of three phases. First, to manage and reduce their direct emissions. Second, to reduce the carbon intensity of the electricity they use by buying 'green electricity'. Finally, to offset the remaining emissions in order to achieve carbon neutrality," explained Dr Thomson.

However Dr Thomson cautioned, "We should not sleep easy in our beds at night because of HSBC's efforts. These alone are not enough, all businesses must take stock of their climate foot-print, and take appropriate actions." At the risk of sounding 'Churchillian'. "We should fight this challenge in the ceilings and in the duct work of our boardrooms, in our broader workplaces and our corporate Mercedes Benz. Every single effort will count."

"It is also time for the Hong Kong Government to drive strongly through clear policy and timely and appropriate measures." He added. "We are pleased that both Chief Executive candidates have shown utmost concern on the environment, but it is time to transform the rhetoric into action."

The IPCC was established in 1988 by two United Nations organizations, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to assess, on a comprehensive, objective, open and transparent basis, the scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant to understanding the scientific basis of risk of human-induced climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation.

The IPCC's Fourth Assessment Report, "Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis" measured the current scientific knowledge of the natural and human drivers of climate change, observed changes in climate, the ability of science to attribute changes to different causes, and projections for future climate change. "It is very likely that the observed increase in methane concentration is due to anthropogenic activities, predominantly agriculture and fossil fuel use, but relative contributions from different source types are not well determined." To conclude, human actions are "very likely" the cause of global warming, meaning 90% or greater probability. In 2001, the IPCC put the same estimate as "likely", meaning more than 66% probability.

The review is one of the three reports that the IPCC will issue this year. The others will focus on the social and economic impacts of climate change and efforts to mitigate the risk.


About the Business Environment Council


The Business Environment Council (BEC) is an independent, non-profit organization set up by business for business as an environmental solutions provider. BEC's services include consultancy, research, training and award programs for companies across all sectors and at any stage of their corporate sustainability journey. BEC is a membership organization based in Hong Kong with offices in Beijing and Shenzhen.

BEC's Council Members include CLP, China Resources Enterprise, Gammon Construction, Great Eagle Company, Hongkong Electric Company, HSBC, Hongkong International Terminals, Jardine Pacific, Kowloon-Canton Railway, KMB, PCCW, Shell, the Swire Group, Modern Terminals and Wheelock. BEC's broader membership extends to a network of more than 20,000 companies.