#WeMeanIt Daily Dispatch: January 23We Mean Business
Climate and energy stories direct from Davos.
On Wednesday, several World Economic Forum sessions addressed the emerging economic opportunities and growing competitive advantage through taking bold action on climate and energy issues.
Yesterday, we heard from a small but growing vanguard of brands that see 2015 as a key moment for concerted mobilization of the biggest, most diverse and most untapped global constituency: consumers. And consumers have the power to support and advocate for some of the big commitments forward-thinking businesses have already made on 100% renewable energy or 100% forest protection – and to the aspirational goals of fossil-free energy and 100% carbon neutrality.
CONNECTING THE DOTS
Thursday morning kicked off with a lively conversation around calculating the risk of climate change. There was a shared sense at the Integrating Climate Risks into Financial Systems session that “climate change was not some parallel universe to the economy.” Speaker after speaker stressed how vital it is for the insurance sector to connect the dots. The risks and impacts are on a scale we’ve never seen before. And perhaps the most enduring idea: the notion that while the science of climate risk management is in its infancy – we do not have the luxury of huge amounts of time to figure it out.
Purpose – an agency that builds and accelerates movements to tackle the world’s biggest problems – invited business and thought-leaders to a lunch session at the #BeyondDavos hub to talk about the power of brands and the potential they have for spreading and adopting ownerless campaigns. The session was inspired by a panel that included Richard Branson; Mary Robinson, President of the Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice; Steve Howard, Chief Sustainability Officer, IKEA; Jeff Seabright, Chief Sustainability Officer, Unilever; and Keith Weed, Chief Marketing & Communications Officer, Unilever.
The combined brand power in the room was staggering. 770 million people visit IKEA stores each year. 200 million people buy a Unilever product every day. From Coke to Virgin, few entities have channels that touch people in their daily lives the way these kinds of brands are able to. Participants then brainstormed ideas for how to mobilize consumers, companies and citizens in 2015.
CARBON PRICING HITS A TIPPING POINT
The theme of pricing climate into markets – and decisions – resonated in several of the World Economic Forum sessions, today. Investors and business leaders clearly want to avoid a situation where sudden and reactionary regulation hits in – five or ten years down the line. There is still a need for some institutional investors and financial institutions to engage in a dialogue around the economic impacts of unaddressed climate change, regulatory approaches that create greater certainty, and reductions of barriers to investment.
But there is a real sense that a tipping point on carbon pricing has taken place. Hundreds of companies already use an internal price on carbon. More than 1,000 companies and investors and over 70 countries are now calling for robust carbon pricing. And business leaders are beginning to see that strong carbon pricing will unlock investment and innovation in a low-carbon economy.
THE SDGs: MORE IMPETUS FOR ACTION AND MAKING PROGRESS MORE MEASURABLE
An excellent discussion at a WBCSD-led session highlighted the importance of – and challenge to – make the Sustainability Development Goals both measurable and relevant to business. Goal 13 – take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts – is particularly significant because the SDGs will be operational as of January 1, 2016, a full four years before the COP21 treaty commitments come into effect in 2020.
QUOTES FROM THE DAY
“The B Team is a group of leaders who’ve got together to set the pace. We have to make sure there are no more coal-fired power stations built anywhere in the world from today onwards. And we’ve got to get rid of all fossil fuel subsidies.”
– Richard Branson, Founder at Virgin Group
“If businesses from every sector are able to say on a continual basis, ‘We want carbon pricing. If you price carbon, we will be able to reduce emissions,’ then that will be a powerful message.”
– Rachel Kyte, World Bank Group, Vice President and Special Envoy for Climate Change