Post-Davos Dispatch: The low-carbon transition takes center stageWe Mean Business
The World Economic Forum in Davos, January 2017, marked many milestones on the path to a truly low-carbon economy and saw climate issues taken right to the heart of the global agenda.
The world’s first industry led initiative, Carbon Pricing Corridors, aimed at defining the carbon prices needed in order for the power sector to meet the requirements of the Paris Agreement was launched at the beginning of Davos week. CDP, on behalf of the We Mean Business coalition (WMB), convened a panel of utilities and investment leaders from across the G20 under the Carbon Pricing Corridors initiative.
“Carbon pricing is too important to leave in the realm of economic debate,” said CDP’s chief executive officer Paul Simpson at the launch. “This is why CDP, on behalf of We Mean Business, is bringing industry leaders – the people who make the decisions day in and day out that shape our power sector – to the table to help embed carbon pricing in our real economy.”
Further evidence of how businesses are accelerating the shift to renewable energy came from the launch of the RE100 annual report, led by The Climate Group in partnership with CDP. The report shows that in little over two years, RE100 has transitioned from a bright idea to a well-known force for change, recognized internationally by the business community, the United Nations, governments and the media.
“It’s not only the right thing to do – it adds value to our business and drives innovation in our products and operations,” Johanna C. Jobin, Director Global Environmental Health and Safety and Sustainability, Biogen.
During the conference, WMB convened several high-level events, bringing together business leaders and industry experts in the spirit of shared learning and collaboration. These included a roundtable discussion, hosted by Science Based Targets, World Resources Institute, WWF, UN Global Compact, CDP and WMB, which was designed to share experience from companies in the process of setting bold science based targets and encourage new ones.
Forward-looking companies discussed the business case for setting ambitious emissions reduction targets that are consistent with levels that scientists agree are sufficient to keep global warming well below 2 degrees. The participants acknowledged the challenges and shared potential solutions and benefits.
A high-level dinner hosted by the IKEA Group and WMB provided a forum to discuss the importance of ensuring a just transition to a low-carbon economy.
During the dinner, Sharan Burrow, the General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, underlined the need to ensure the transition to a low-carbon economy is inclusive of communities and protects vulnerable workers from the disruptive impact of structural change.
“With more than 30 trillion dollars of workers’ pension funds invested in the global economy, the need for disclosure, diversification and just transition measures from companies is critical to preserve and grow jobs,” she said, adding that planning and investment at all levels can generate sustainable jobs.
Also at the dinner, Professor Lord Nicholas Stern, IG Patel Professor of Economics and Government at the London School of Economics and President of the British Academy, spoke of the urgency and scale of action now necessary to achieve low-carbon growth, as well as the potential opportunities.
“Economic growth and sustainable development are two sides of the same coin,” he said.
While Peter Agnefjäll, President and CEO of the IKEA Group, underlined the compelling business case for taking bold action that helps to protect the climate.
WMB, Mission 2020 and The Climate group hosted a discussion around the future of electro-mobility, during which Christiana Figueres, Convenor of Mission 2020 and former Executive Secretary of UNFCCC, explained how the transportation sector is in pole position to harness the already incredible momentum towards electrification and deliver its part in achieving the Paris Agreement. The discussion also included an exciting vision of the future of electric powered passenger flights, from Solar Impulse, Managing Director of Marketing, Gregory Blatt.
Meanwhile, away from the conference itself, a huge milestone was reached as the number of companies making climate commitments through the WMB coalition hit 500. The latest additions include United Technologies Corporation, which has set a science-based target, while Danske Bank and Gatwick Airport joined RE100.