Greenpeace Gives US Firms Deadline on Climate Pact

Top 100 US corporations asked to take stance on global warming or face consumer boycott.

Published: 05-Apr-2001

AMSTERDAM, April 5 (Reuters) - Greenpeace said on Thursday it had given top U.S. firms one week to oppose Washington's rejection of a key treaty to fight global warming, or risk being publicly named to face a possible consumer backlash.

The environmental group said it had sent letters to the chief executives of the top 100 U.S. companies in the Fortune 500 list asking if they supported ratification of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.

Greenpeace's move follows U.S. President George W. Bush's abandonment last month of the treaty, which the U.S. has signed but not ratified. The pact calls for major industrialised countries to cut carbon dioxide emissions by an average of 5.2 percent from 1990 levels by 2012.

"We're trying to work out where the U.S. companies stand on this issue. We're really just trying to lay down some markers," said Bill Hare, Greenpeace's climate policy director.

Hare said the results of the survey would be made public, threatening companies with a potential consumer backlash. He declined to say if the group planned further campaign action.

A United Nations scientific body has said greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide produced by the burning of fossil fuels, will contribute to rising global temperatures and lead to disastrous weather changes.

At the top of Greenpeace's list was U.S. oil major Exxon Mobil , which has so far denied that burning fossil fuels leads to global warming.

Greenpeace said Exxon and other American oil and coal companies are seen globally as the chief architects behind the Bush administration's policy on climate change.

That stance was not universal in the business community. "Some of the companies are supporting the action on climate change, and indeed some do back the Kyoto Protocol," Hare said.

Even some major oil companies have said they support cutting carbon dioxide emissions, Hare said.

"But there's often a gap between what they say and what they spend on the ground," he added.

Bush criticised the Kyoto treaty for failing to demand output cuts from developing nations. He also said he could not support anything that might harm industry in the United States, the world's largest emitter of carbon dioxide.

The move sparked strong protests from governments and green groups around the world.

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