Climate stole the agenda at the European Business Summit's opening press conference in Brussels, after organisers were forced to invite a representative from Greenpeace onto the platform, following their blockade of the event.
The annual lobby forum, which this year has attracted 10 Commissioners, including Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, seems to be giving the climate far less priority this year.
Daniel Mittler from Greenpeace International explained that they did not want to stop the Summit from taking place but they wanted to highlight the damage being done by the climate laggards within the business community, including one of the summit organisers, BusinessEurope.
BusinessEurope's laggard tendancies were also flagged in a spoof newspaper, distributed by Friends of the Earth Europe at the summit to highlight how the business lobby group was blocking effective climate action. Friends of the Earth Europe is calling for Europe to adopt a target of 40% emissions cuts by 2020 – a move that BusinessEurope has vocally opposed.
Rudi Thomas from the Federation of Enterprises in Belgium countered that the business community supported climate action, but the questions was what was the most tactical way to get there.
“Since Copenhagen, we have been a little more prudent in terms of tactics,” he said. “Europe can take the lead, but will the lead be followed?”
He invited the Chair of BusinessEurope to add more, but Jürgen Thumann said he had nothing to add.
The press conference had been called to publicise the findings of a survey, commissioned for the summit,revealing the views of business leaders.
Thomas was keen to point to one of the survey findings that showed that 11% of business leaders felt that Europe was very efffective in supporting the development of green opportunities.
Mark Spelman from Accenture, which carried out the survey, added that resource efficiency was a major opportunity for business, an opportunity to find a way to decouple growth from resource use.
But in reality the survey revealed that business leaders main concerns were around financial stability, competitions from emerging markets and government deficits. Business does not appear to be leading on climate change – and it isn't looking to the EU to lead either.