UN highlights role of transnational corporations in transitioning to low-carbon future

Supachai Panitchpakdi, Secretary-General of UNCTAD. Photo: Horasis

22 July 2010 – While they are major carbon emitters, transnational corporations (TNCs) are also a source of ‘green’ investments and can play a crucial role in propelling the world towards a low-carbon future, according to a new report by the UN trade arm.

Supachai Panitchpakdi, Secretary-General of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), said at today’s launch of the publication in Geneva that “the global policy debate on tackling climate change is no longer about whether to take action: it is now about how much action to take, which actions need to be taken, and by whom.”

TNCs, as emitters and active players in low-carbon foreign investment, are “therefore inevitably part of both the problem and the solution to climate change,” he said.

Developing nations, though typically not large emitters of greenhouse gases, can still benefit from low-carbon technologies which could help to enhance their competitiveness in the global export market and accelerate their transition to a green economy, Mr. Supachai said.

In the new report, UNCTAD proposed the creation of a Global Partnership for Low-Carbon Investment with a view to harness low-carbon foreign investment for sustainable growth and development.

Such a collaboration, it said, would entail setting up clean investment promotion strategies, the dissemination of clean technology and creating a single global standard for corporations’ disclosure of their greenhouse gas emissions, among others.

UNCTAD’s flagship World Investment Report also found that global foreign direct investment (FDI) saw a modest but uneven recovery in the first half of this year, sparking short-term cautious optimism in the short to medium term.

The agency predicts that global inflows will rise to more than $1.2 trillion in 2010, possibly reaching $2 trillion in 2012, but Mr. Supachai warned today that the brighter prospects for the coming years “remain fraught with risks and uncertainties, especially because of the fragility of the global economic recovery.”

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