Monday, September 22, 2008

U.S. companies see climate risk, but lack plan

rom: Timothy Gardner, Reuters


NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. companies judge climate change a risk to their business, but lag global companies in setting targets to cut emissions, according to a global survey.

"We're seeing the U.S. play catch up here, but they've got a way to go," Paul Dickinson, chief executive of the Carbon Disclosure Project, which administers the annual survey, said in an interview ahead of the formal release of the 2008 CDP survey in New York on Monday.

Dickinson said the gap demonstrates the difference between the climate culture of companies in Europe and the United States.

The European Union has had mandatory greenhouse emissions caps since 2005, while the United States, historically the world's top greenhouse gas polluter, has no federal limits on the gases blamed for warming the planet.

About 81 percent of U.S. companies responding to this year's survey, or about 255 companies, perceived climate change as a risk. Yet only 33 percent of U.S. respondents had greenhouse gas reduction targets in place.

"They are not listening to themselves," Dickinson said.

In contrast, 74 percent of global companies that responded to the survey have set emissions reduction targets.

Only 14 percent of U.S. oil and gas companies that responded disclosed greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets.

One U.S. oil company, Occidental Petroleum, responded that it "does not have sufficient information to establish a cost basis for future financial risks since no regulations requiring greenhouse gas emissions controls have been implemented by governments in the areas where Occidental operates."

Dickinson said companies should be spurred by the debt-related financial crisis to determine undiscovered risk and act on it.

"If everybody is reporting a risk, but not everybody is starting to act on it, that would seem to imply things are going to change," he said.

U.S. presidential candidates Senators John McCain and Barack Obama have both said they favor regulating greenhouse gases.

Some 81 percent of European companies answered the survey's questions, while 64 percent of U.S. companies responded.

(Editing by David Gregorio)

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