We Mean Business Launches at Climate Week NYC: CEOs from Apple and IKEA Issue Strong Call to ActionWe Mean Business
Today, Apple CEO Tim Cook and IKEA CEO Peter Agnefjäll joined Christiana Figueres, world renowned climate negotiator and the Executive Secretary for the UNFCCC, in launching a new business initiative on the opening day of Climate Week NYC.
We Mean Business is an unprecedented collaboration between business groups working with the world’s most influential companies and investors to drive climate action. Demonstrating that business is serious about tackling climate change, the launch – ahead of the UN Climate Summit on September 23, 2014 – also featured BSR CEO Aron Cramer and WBCSD CEO Peter Bakker in conversation with Bloomberg’s Sustainability Editor Eric Roston about the group’s landmark report The Climate Has Changed: Why bold, low carbon action makes business sense, which offers evidence for why low carbon investments are good for business.
Apple CEO Issues Call to Action
Speaking at the event, Tim Cook said, “Apple has a core value of leaving the world better than we found it. There is no one out there that wants the planet to continue to go in the wrong direction.”
“The long term consequences of not doing anything for climate change are huge…We need to be one of the pebbles in the pond to create the ripple,” he added noting that climate action is “great for the environment and it’s also good for economics, it’s both.”
Stressing that achieving net zero carbon emissions by mid century are a real possibility if government and business can work together, Figueres asked the CEO to expand on how Apple was thinking through its carbon footprint and supply chain.
“We’re now turning our attention to the supply chain in a major way,” he said. “It’s not esoteric and theory, its real work and projects.”
The bottom line according to the prolific CEO: “We’re very secretive about what products we’re working on… But on something like climate, human rights or education, we feel deeply about these. These are at the core of who we are. They are deep in our values. And we know that we will not make enough of a difference if we only solve our little piece of the world.”
From Luxury to Mainstream: IKEA CEO Elevates Sustainability
Next on stage was IKEA Chairman and CEO Peter Agnefjäll.
Noting that his company has a core mission to protect the planet, the CEO began by seconding Cook’s nod to the need for scale and said, “In the past, sustainable products were luxury but producing for the affluent few will not change the world.”
Noting that despite IKEA’s reach, their action was just a drop in the bucket and not scalable without other companies and policymakers joining in, Agnefjäll said, “We want to grow – and we want to grow in a way that is people and planet positive. We want all products to have function, design value, quality, and be manufactured and recycled in a way that is sustainable.”
Agnefjäll also noted that big objectives needed visionary leaders. “When we decided to go 100% renewable, we didn’t really know how to do that, but we had a bold objective… the role of leaders is to set visionary targets, together we will figure it out”
In response to Figueres’ question about what he would ask from policymakers, Agnefjäll said:
“What we need from policymakers is bold commitments for which direction we should develop as a society…when you have a payoff of 10 – 15 years it’s difficult to say yes to investments that we need. We need clear signals from policymakers.”
IKEA also announced a commitment to use 100% renewable or recycled plastic material in their products by 2020 to coincide with the launch of RE100, an industry-wide initiative launched by The Climate Group and CDP.