DAVOS, Switzerland — Businesses, especially U.S. ones, must get more involved in the global effort to slow climate change and help pressure politicians to enact policies that promote green growth, international leaders said Thursday.
"They are part of the problem, and they must be part of the solution," South African President Jacob Zuma said at the World Economic Forum.
In a panel discussion at Davos, where about 2,500 business leaders and politicians are gathered, Zuma vowed to press for a greater corporate role in the U.N. climate talks that his country will host in the coastal city of Durban later this year.
"I think that's one of the areas we are going to work very hard leading to Durban to convince business to be party so that it's not just governments alone," Zuma said, sharing the stage with Mexican President Felipe Calderon, European Union Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard and U.N. climate chief Christiana Figueres.
There is serious concern about how to keep the global economy moving forward while, at the same time, ensuring that people in the developing world are not denied a chance to better their lives without contributing to factors that have caused global warming.
Hedegaard said that governments can provide the right conditions for green growth but that "solutions have to come from business."
She noted that President Barack Obama didn't mention climate change or global warming in his State of the Union address on Tuesday "because of the political situation."
But she implored U.S. businesses to be bolder in embracing more energy-efficient economies.
Calderon said very little can be achieved without U.S. involvement, and he called for a change in American public opinion on global warming.
"My perception is most of the people in the United States are afraid about the economic situation," he said. "They perceive this issue of climate change like an obstacle for their own progress. And we need to change that perception."