Gigaton Awards 2010: Recognizing Business Leadership in the Fight Against Climate Change

By Jigar Shah, CEO Carbon War Room

Every year there are globally 50 billion tons of manmade CO2 emitted into our atmosphere. By 2020 — that number is expected to reach 60 billion tons.
As COP 15 showed us last year and COP 16 is currently demonstrating, governments around the world are simply not moving fast enough to enact policy solutions to address this problem. It is clear, therefore, that leadership needs to come from the business sector.

That’s why the Carbon War Room hosted the Gigaton Awards in Cancun last Saturday, to highlight businesses that are raising the standards of sustainability while reducing emissions per dollar of revenue. By bringing The Gigaton Awards to COP 16, we’ve signaled our intent to bring new focus to the specific, tangible results that make substantial reductions in carbon emissions by 2020. The Awards are about recognizing businesses that are actively adopting technologies and products that will make substantial reduction in carbon emissions a reality. Studies have shown that 50% of all emissions can be profitably offset with existing technology. These solutions are not only capable of reducing 17 gigatons of carbon from our atmosphere, they’re also drivers of business that can save people money and stimulate the economy.

The companies recognized at the Gigaton Awards are proof that reducing emissions and maximizing profitability go hand in hand. They are setting examples in their respective sectors, and by recognizing these companies, we aim to inspire business leaders across the globe to embrace sustainable development.

This year, the six Gigaton Award winners included:
•NIKE, for its energy savings program aimed at reducing its global greenhouse gas emissions,
•Reckitt Benckiser Group, for demonstrating its leadership in mitigating risk from climate change and sustainable practices,
•Suzlon, for its achievement in managing its emissions and overall sustainability milestones,
•3M, for its leadership in improving energy efficiency and sustainable practices,
•Vodafone Group, for its new business which provides carbon reducing connections, and
•GDF Suez, for its demonstrated leadership by emitting among the lowest CO2 per KWh produced in Europe.

The Gigaton Awards ceremony was part of the World Climate Summit: The Business Conference at COP16. Nominees were selected based on quantitative data indicating emissions reductions on an annual basis.

The time to act is now, and the business community is creating moments of truth everyday that make far greater progress than the wrangling of national governments. With these awards, we are showing that while policy is necessary, it is not sufficient. We need to focus, instead, on making markets work and unleashing capital to more sustainable solutions. This is our great challenge and we need business leadership to address this. The consequences if we do not will be insurmountable.

The time for business to lead on climate change and sustainability — while still making profits — is now.

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