PARIS IS CRITICAL – BUT NOT THE “FINISH LINE”We Mean Business
There was strong alignment from business leaders in Davos around what they want—and need—from COP21, the conference that aims to secure a global agreement on climate change. Business leaders have been strident that consistent, credible, and long-term policy frameworks are essential for businesses and investors to know where to invest. Having ambitious climate policy will help businesses unleash innovation, create jobs, and build strong and resilient economic growth. Forward-thinking CEOs increasingly see Paris as an opportunity for the world’s leaders to set bold net-zero emissions targets and place the global economy on a vibrant, low carbon track.
2015: Climate and energy link SDGs and COP21. A strong theme in Davos was that 2015 is a historic opportunity because energy, climate, and development are inextricably linked. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that will be agreed upon in September highlight that. As Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of UNFCCC, put it, “Before we can sow the new seeds of development, we need to clear the weeds of climate.” Addressing the climate change challenge will make dealing with the development goals possible.
The SDGs framework provides compelling new and, in some ways, more business-friendly lenses for the climate change conversation. A much-discussed area was global infrastructure investment needs. Rethinking how to reach hundreds of millions of people who still need access to energy with renewable energy solutions could open up vast new markets. Or as Jim Yong Kim, the President of the World Bank pointed out, an aggressive move toward energy-efficient and clean transport could add US$1.6 – 2.6 trillion to economies over the next decade.
Beyond Paris: Amid the attention on national policies and COP21, many CEOs stressed the opportunities for both progress and profits as cities transform their transport, housing, and energy supply needs in response to the demands of population growth and rapid urbanization. This is also a reminder why—as crucial as Paris is to setting the tone for investment choices and corporate strategy over the next 15 years—business leaders see it as a very important milestone and not a “finish line.”