#WeMeanIt Daily Dispatch: January 24We Mean Business
Climate and energy stories direct from Davos.
We caught up with Peter Bakker, President of the WBCSD, as he came out of the World Economic Forum’s Climate Leadership Group Coalitions for Concrete Actions session, today. He said that business leaders in Davos this year are speaking about energy and climate change with much greater clarity. Their voices are louder – and more cohesive.
During the session, Feike Sijbesma, CEO and Chairman of Royal DSM, spoke about why countries have a compelling reason to slap a fee on carbon dioxide emissions: cheap oil prices. “Is this not a present for politicians? I would say don’t waste that moment.”
And Bakker told us that leaders are discussing climate in a way that is much less defensive. There is, he said, an exciting sense of healthy competition developing as companies realize the economic opportunity in taking bold climate action.
Bakker’s insight dovetails with the findings from our recent report, The Climate Has Changed, where we found that companies and investors are committed to bold leadership on climate action more now than at any time in history. Climate change is swiftly moving from the backroom to the boardroom as leading companies prove taking action makes good business sense.
And now it appears that this new tone in the conversation has found its way into the conference halls in Davos.
WHAT’S HAPPENING TODAY
- Circular Economy: Towards Global Impact (World Economic Forum)
- IGWEL: The New Global Context for the Post-2015 UN Development and Climate Agendas (World Economic Forum)
- Fossil Fuels at a Crossroads (World Economic Forum)
- An Insight, an Idea with Mario Molina (World Economic Forum)
- Energy Innovations with the Technology Pioneers (World Economic Forum)
CLIMATE TAKES CENTER STAGE
The Forum’s “Tackling Climate, Development and Growth” plenary featured Paul Polman, A. Michael Spence, Jakaya M. Kikwete, Christine Lagarde, Ban Ki-moon and Jim Yong Kim. The panel agreed that sustainable development and climate change are two sides of the same coin, with success for both agendas hinging on significant investments from both the public and private sector. Infrastructure and climate are currently treated as separate issues, for example, even though an aggressive move toward efficiency and clean transport could add US$ 1.8 – 2.6 trillion to economies in the next decade, as Jim Yong Kim pointed out.
As 60% of the global economy, the private sector needs to be a stronger advocate on the road to Paris, to give governments the confidence to be more ambitious with their targets. The panel cited We Mean Business as one organization answering the World Bank’s request for companies to be outspoken about the need for carbon pricing.
OUR CHATS WITH CHRISTIANA FIGUERES, NICHOLAS STERN, DR. PANKAJ AGARWAL AND ABYD KARMALI
CLOSING THE ENERGY GAP IN AFRICA
First, the bad news. Only 43% of Africans currently have access to energy – and energy demand on the continent is projected to grow 95% by 2035. And now the good news. According to the International Energy Agency, “Sub-Saharan Africa is rich in energy resources. Huge renewable resources remain untapped: excellent solar across all of Africa, hydro in many countries, wind mainly in coastal areas and geothermal in the East African Rift Valley.”
There were several promising stories in this morning’s session. Kenya, for example, is aiming to triple its energy production in the next three years and is determined to make a significant portion of that new energy clean, reliable and affordable.
Energy sits at the middle of this year’s two great challenges: the SDGs and COP21. Nations throughout Africa need cheap, reliable and secure power to grow their economies and lift people out of poverty. At the same time, there is clear recognition from leaders that more of the energy supply must be clean; otherwise the sustainability goals that Africa is determined to meet will be that much harder to achieve.
IN THE NEWS
- “24 quotes on climate change from Davos 2015,” World Economic Forum Agenda blog
- “Leaders in Davos Urge Quick Action to Alter the Effects of Climate Change,” New York Times
- “WBCSD Perspective on the 2015 Climate Change Agreement,” World Business Council for Sustainable Development“
- A New Hope to Avert Climate Catastrophe,” by Johan Rockström, World Economic Forum Agenda blog
QUOTES FROM THE DAY
“Paris needs to result in a binding global agreement that will map out an effective fight against climate change – that is the major challenge of the twenty-first century.”
– François Hollande, President of France
“In the course of my travels, I don’t see an unraveling [of international cooperation]. I see just the opposite. I see nations coming together … to reach an ambitious global agreement to address climate change, with the recent agreement by China and the United States that begins to set the targets to make the Paris negotiations this year a success.”
– John Kerry, US Secretary of State
“Carbon pricing is a very important tool in the armory. I think it is difficult to see the world achieving its targets without some sort of pricing mechanism for this critical pollutant.”
– Rowan Douglas, CEO Capital, Science & Policy Practice and Chairman, Willis Research Network
“I think progressive businesses have no option but to stand up more frequently and boldly to talk about the growth impact of not tackling climate change, of not understanding water scarcity. It’s a growth question, therefore it’s a business success question.”
– Andrew Wales, SVP Sustainable Development, SABMiller