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Multinational corporations and corporate social responsibility: Addressing climate change
conference contributionposted on 05.02.2019, 00:00 authored by Manuel OysonManuel Oyson
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned in its most recent Assessment Report that the “world’s societies will need to both mitigate and adapt to climate change if it is to effectively avoid harmful climate impacts (robust evidence, high agreement).” It also observed with “high confidence” a more rapid rise in total anthropogenic (i.e. man-made) greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from 2000 to 2010 than in the past three decades that “were the highest in human history.” The persistent increase in GHG emissions will entail a continuing process of global warming and can alter the climate system. The United Nations Development Programme characterised climate change as “the defining human development issue of our generation.” It may not be an exaggeration to assert that the survival of mankind is tied to state of the Earth’s environment. Most proposals, however, to address climate change focus on states, which themselves actually do not cause GHG emissions, and fail to involve transnational corporations (TNCs) which are actually major emitters across their vast global operations. Arguably TNCs should be involved in finding a solution, not only because they greatly contribute to GHG emissions, but also because of the nature of the climate change problem as a “global commons problem” that requires international cooperation from multiple actors, including TNCs, and because TNCs can play a significant role in addressing the problem of climate change with their strong knowledge-base, advanced technologies and global reach. Examined in this paper is how TNCs may be motivated to voluntarily commit to, and hold themselves responsible for, reducing their GHG emissions and helping address climate change. The paper provides an answer by arguing for TNCs to voluntarily commit to reducing their GHG emissions and helping address climate change as part of their corporate social responsibility.