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WASHINGTON DC: President Obama says 81 companies have now signed the American Business Act on Climate Pledge, a commitment to reduce emissions, increase low-carbon investments and deploy more clean energy.

The group, which doesn't include Exxon-Mobil or Chevron but does include General Motors, Google, Microsoft, Wal-Mart and Berkshire Hathaway, employs over nine million people, represents more than US$3 trillion in annual revenue, and has a combined market capitalization of over US$5 trillion.

global warmingIn July this year, UPS joined with 12 other companies to launch the Obama initiative that has since been criticized by Congressional Republicans as damaging to U.S. competitiveness.

Together with the 80 other companies, the US$58 billion logistics provider obviously doesn't agree: "UPS understands that the scope of tomorrow's sustainability challenges requires us to adapt and innovate if we are to deliver more goods for our customers while increasing the efficiency of the transportation fleet," said Rhonda Clark, head of Sustainability and vice president, Environmental Affairs who added: "Once individuals as well as businesses understand the value proposition, sustainability will become a way of life."

The American Business Act commits the signatories to reduce emissions by 50 percent; reduce water usage by 80 percent; achieve zero waste-to-landfill; purchase 100 percent renewable energy; and pursue zero net deforestation in supply chains.

If fully implemented, Obama's climate action plan would reduce carbon pollution by nearly six billion tons through 2030, an amount equivalent to removing all cars from U.S. roads for four years, while his clean power initiative would reduce energy sector emissions 32 percent by 2030.

To date, 150 countries representing more than 85 percent of global carbon emissions have reported post-2020 climate policies to the U.N. including the U.S., China, the European Union and India.

However a report released simultaneously by 18 major civil society groups says many of these countries have adopted a "bottom-up" pledge approach which, they claim, will not keep temperatures below 2°C, much less 1.5°C, above pre-industrial levels: "Even if all countries meet their [proposed] commitments, the world is likely to warm by a devastating 3°C or more, with a significant likelihood of tipping the global climate system into catastrophic runaway warming," it warns.

The group, which includes WWF International, Oxfam and the International Trade Union Confederation declared: "Countries urgently need to implement bold and visionary plans for a just transition to low-carbon economies.

"Plans must cut across all sectors of society, and support workers and communities dependent on sectors that will need to change in order to decarbonize. Such action must include phasing out dirty energy - with developed countries doing so furthest and fastest - and redirecting finance to renewable energy," they added.

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