“The Paris Climate Agreement will help businesses go further and faster”Nigel Topping
When seven of the world’s leading business NGOs came together in September 2014 to launch the We Mean Business coalition, there was a great and inspiring show of unity. We hoped to encourage more businesses and investors to step up and take bold climate action, and to build a clear business voice calling to unleash the economic opportunities of a low carbon future.
One year later, as we wrap up the seventh edition of Climate Week NYC, we can look back at what has been achieved and acknowledge that there has never been a better moment in history for businesses and governments to tackle climate change together.
To date, 200 international companies with revenues totaling nearly US$5 trillion, and over 100 investors with more than US$8 trillion in assets under management, have made more than 500 ambitious commitments to climate action. And we’re just getting started.
Why are these companies and investors moving? They are doing so because the economic case for climate action is strong and clear.
Companies and investors are committing to procure 100% of electricity from renewable sources, to setting emissions reduction targets grounded in the latest science, to putting a price on carbon, and to increasing investment in low carbon assets. These commitments come from across the world, including India, Africa, Japan, Europe, South America and the United States.
As Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, said: “the historical catch-22 around who should act first on climate change – governments or businesses – has finally been broken.” How did that happen? As the New Scientist pointed out, “perhaps it is just as well that the latest climate activists mean business – literally. Business, above all, has the ear of policymakers.”
“That might be enough to ignite action on climate change and on an ambitious governance regime. After all, when money talks, people tend to listen.”
Business leaders and investors needed guidance and inspiration to understand the opportunities of the low-carbon economy. More importantly, they needed to share their successes and challenges. Companies across the world are at different points along the low carbon transition. But being able to see what their peers are achieving, with profit, makes it easier to follow their lead.
“There is no solution to climate without business”, states Figueres. “There is a growing number of CEOs of Fortune 100 and 500 companies that are realizing that they can and should take action right now because it is profitable to their bottom line.” Forward-thinking climate leaders have broken the catch-22. Now it’s time for policymakers to empower more companies and organizations to join them.
Now that national emissions reductions commitments covering over 70% of global emissions have been announced, in the run up to COP21 in Paris, We Mean Business is renewing its call for strong climate policy.
John Danilovich, Secretary General of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), stated: “The message from the business community is clear: COP21 must deliver on the promise of the new Sustainable Development Goals to tackle climate change. We need a robust and ambitious deal that works with business meet the climate challenge.”
Today, organizations working with 6,000,000 companies around the world called for governments to seize the momentum and complete an ambitious climate deal in Paris. But what does success look like? A successful Paris agreement will:
- Decarbonize the global economy this century. For We Mean Business, this means net zero greenhouse gas emissions well before the end of the century. This is a goal that everyone – countries, cities, companies and citizens – can and should act on.
- Regularly update and improve government commitments every five years, to capture low carbon innovation.
- Ensure accountability and transparency for governments through clear rules, just as thousands of businesses and investors already report on their emissions.
- Send clear policy signals to shift the trillions of dollars needed for low-carbon, climate resilient investment, such as carbon pricing mechanisms and incentives. The number of companies that use an internal price on carbon tripled this year.
- Reduce the vulnerability and strengthen the resilience of economies and communities to climate impacts. A world where global warming is kept below 2°C will still be one where businesses and their value chains face climate impacts worldwide.
Leading businesses and investors know that the transition to the low-carbon economy is inevitable, irreversible and irresistible. Through an ambitious Paris Agreement, governments and businesses will go further and faster, together.