Big companies commit to slash emissions ahead of UN climate summit

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will host an emergency summit on Monday in which he will urge world leaders to raise their commitments made in the 2015 Paris climate accord. (File/AFP)
Updated 22 September 2019

Big companies commit to slash emissions ahead of UN climate summit

  • Some companies in the coalition have agreed to slash their carbon emissions to net zero by 2050, including Swiss food company Nestle
  • Others have stopped short of committing to go carbon neutral but say they will align their operations with a goal of limiting the increase in average global temperatures

UNITED NATIONS: Almost 90 big companies in sectors from food to cement to telecommunications are pledging to slash their greenhouse gas emissions in a new campaign to steer multi-nationals toward a low-carbon future, organizers said on Sunday.
We Mean Business, a coalition of advocacy groups, said dozens of companies had joined the initiative in the two months leading up to a United Nations summit taking place on Monday, which aims to spur faster action on climate change.
“Now we need many more companies to join the movement, sending a clear signal that markets are shifting,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement.
The coalition was launched in June with a call to action by the United Nations, business and civil society leaders. The first 28 companies to join announced the following month. We Mean Business said 87 companies are now involved, with total market capitalization of more than $2.3 trillion.
Some companies in the coalition have agreed to slash their carbon emissions to net zero by 2050, including Swiss food company Nestle, French building materials company Saint-Gobain, and French cosmetics maker L’Oreal .
Others have stopped short of committing to go carbon neutral but say they will align their operations with a goal of limiting the increase in average global temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius enshrined in the 2015 Paris Agreement.
This group includes Finnish telecoms company Nokia , French food group Danone and British drug maker AstraZeneca Plc, We Mean Business said.
As accelerating climate impacts from melting ice caps to sea-level rise and extreme weather outpace climate models, scientists say the world needs to halve its greenhouse gas emissions over the next decade to avoid catastrophic warming.
With fossil fuel companies still developing new oil and gas fields and many developing countries expanding coal-fired power, the coalition’s pledges are minuscule relative to rising global emissions.
Some experts have questioned whether publicly traded companies committed to maximizing shareholder returns will be able to make the sweeping investments required to fight climate change. Yet many investors have been pressuring companies to act on climate risks, and chief executives also face pressure from an upsurge in youth-led activism, which mobilized millions around the world to protest on Friday.
We Mean Business believes pledges by a core of mostly European, and some North American and Asian companies, to commit to independently-verified emissions targets will prompt others to follow suit.
“These bold companies are leading the way toward a positive tipping point where 1.5°C-aligned corporate strategies are the new normal for businesses and their supply chains around the world,” said Lise Kingo, chief executive of the UN Global Compact, which promotes responsible business practices.
UN chief Guterres sees the private sector as crucial to securing more ambitious pledges at Monday’s Climate Action Summit in New York, which aims to boost the Paris deal before it enters a crucial implementation phase next year.
Companies such as Danish power group Orsted, Spanish energy company Iberdrola and German insurer Allianz are due to speak alongside governments at the one-day gathering, according to a draft agenda.


Australian man survives croc attack by gouging its eye

Updated 16 November 2019

Australian man survives croc attack by gouging its eye

  • Wildlife ranger Craig Dickmann made a split-second decision to go fishing in a remote part of Northern Australia known as ‘croc country.’
  • ‘That noise will haunt me forever I think, the sound of the snap of its jaws’

CAIRNS, Australia: An Australian wildlife ranger has recounted his terrifying escape from the clutches of a “particularly cunning” crocodile, after wrestling with the reptile and sticking a finger in its eye.
Craig Dickmann, who made a split-second decision to go fishing last Sunday in a remote part of Northern Australia known as “croc country” last Sunday, said a 2.8-meter (nine-foot) crocodile came up from behind him as he was leaving the beach.
“As I’ve turned to go, the first thing I see is its head just come at me,” he told reporters on Friday from his hospital bed in the town of Cairns in Queensland state.
Dickmann said the animal latched on to his thigh.
“That noise will haunt me forever I think, the sound of the snap of its jaws,” he said.
The 54-year-old said he wrestled with the croc on the remote beach as it tried to drag him into the water.
Dickmann stuck his thumb into its eye, saying it was the only “soft spot” he found on the “bullet-proof” animal.
“Their eyes retract a fair way and when you go down far enough you can feel bone so I pushed as far as I possibly could and then it let go at that point,” Dickmann said.
After a few minutes, he said he managed to get on top of the croc and pin its jaws shut.
“And then, I think both the croc and I had a moment where we’re going, ‘well, what do we do now?’”
Dickmann said he then pushed the croc away from him and it slid back into the water.
The ranger had skin ripped from his hands and legs in the ordeal and drove more than 45 minutes back to his home before calling emergency services.
It was then another hour in the car to meet the Royal Flying Doctors Service who flew him to Cairns Hospital, where he is recovering from the ordeal.
“This croc was particularly cunning and particularly devious,” he said.
Queensland’s department of environment this week euthanized the animal.
“The area is known croc country and people in the area are reminded to always be crocwise,” the department said in a statement.
Saltwater crocodiles, which can grow up to seven meters long and weigh more than a ton, are common in the vast continent’s tropical north.
Their numbers have exploded since they were declared a protected species in the 1970s, with attacks on humans rare.
According to the state government, the last non-fatal attack was in January 2018 in the Torres Strait while the last death was in October 2017 in Port Douglas.