It’s time for climate leaders to ramp up action, more than ambitionWe Mean Business
With less than 130 days left before the beginning of the crucial UN Conference of Parties (COP21), government leaders and negotiators are facing great pressure, as they are expected to deliver their Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDCs) in six weeks, with the necessary high level of ambition to keep global warming beyond the critical 2°C threshold.
But is this what could actually turn Paris’ climate negotiations into a game-changing moment? Is this the only platform that will allow world economies and major polluters to keep boosting the low carbon transition after Paris?
This year there is a new set of actors who are expected to play an active role both during and after COP: the business community. Business leaders have never been so greatly involved and aware of their role in the low carbon transition as they are now, for it is clear that climate actions make good business sense.
As we are halfway through the year of climate, let’s take a quick look at the evidence of what’s happened so far to understand where we are heading.
Europe’s six major oil companies sent a letter to the UN this June asking for carbon pricing systems at regional, national and international level, signaling the importance of ensuring the cost of carbon is effectively factored into the economy. This signal from the oil and gas industry marks the significance of the need for financial signals that enable a measured transition from the high carbon to the low carbon economy. The business call for a carbon price was on stage across all events at Climate Week Paris, with hot debate about what an effective price would be. It’s still not clear what kind of carbon pricing bands and trajectories we can expect in the near xt future, but the tone of the conversations are a promising sign that business sees the need for a measure that can directly impact financial decision making.
Companies from across the world have not only set ambitious targets, by committing to go 100% renewable or to end deforestation across their business operations, but they have also shown the achievements deriving from setting such targets.
IKEA announced in May that its investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency have proven to be successful, as all its Nordic operations (Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark) are now producing more energy from renewables than they consume, thus being on track to meet its target of being powered by 100% renewable energy by 2020.
Green investments and sustainable actions have been brought forward from big and small corporates: from giant multinationals Google, Apple, Unilever and Nike to new climate leaders like Unilever, Infosys and H&M, the business case for the low carbon economy has been spreading across the world.
Investors and stakeholders have been major actors in the wave of climate-positive actions, committing to measure and disclose the carbon footprint of their portfolios on an annual basis, developing new approaches to decarbonize their portfolios and divesting from fossil fuels to shift investment to renewable energyies, as the international insurance company Axa announced in May.
So what next? Business leaders have proved they are ready for “business-as-unusual” mindset and they know the policies that will help them achieve their goals that will inevitably follow the climate policies that are now being discussed and put in place in several countries around the world. But what is needed from corporate leaders is an active collaboration with negotiators and policymakers to demonstrate the importance of getting these policies in place as they discuss a global and robust climate deal in Paris.
There are few months left. Let’s make the most out of them.