Why Geneva MattersWe Mean Business
Governments are meeting in Switzerland this week as the negotiations leading to a global climate agreement enter their pivotal final year. Participants at the Geneva Climate Change Conference are building on the “Lima Call for Action” adopted by 196 countries in December.
The goal is to emerge from this session with a streamlined and clear text that can clarify outstanding disputes and form a solid basis for the draft international climate agreement expected to be adopted at the pivotal COP21 in Paris in December.
We Mean Business is a coalition of organizations working with thousands of the world’s most influential businesses and investors. These businesses recognize that the transition to a low carbon economy is the only way to secure sustainable economic growth and prosperity for all. To accelerate this transition, we have formed a common platform to amplify the business voice, catalyze bold climate action by all, and promote smart policy frameworks.
Here we outline three key “business asks” for the current session.
Business expects negotiators in Geneva to maintain a laser-like focus on the overall objective of this process—to hold global mean temperature rises below 2˚C above pre-industrial levels and so avoid the worst impacts of global climate change. This requires an effective enabling environment for strong, low-carbon economic growth built with short-term, medium-term and long-term timeframes in mind.
In the short-term, policy makers need to increase climate ambition during this decade by investing political capital in what’s called the UNFCCC Workstream 2. This track of work aims to scale up technologies and new initiatives rapidly, allowing companies to participate in collaborative platforms and contribute private sector know-how to initiatives focused on a range of topics including energy efficiency, renewable energy, energy supply, transportation, land use, waste, and short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs).
This work is critical, not only because it provides a tangible way for governments to cooperate with business, but also because the initiatives pursued here can make significant contributions to climate stabilization.
We are also helping to drive work on 100% deforestation-free supply chains, carbon pricing and “fast mitigation, which involves tackling SLCPs in a range of industries including agriculture, waste management and transport of HFCs. According to data collected by the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, action to reduce SLCPs could slow down the warming expected by 2050 by as much as 0.5°C.
In the medium term governments need to finalize the elements of a new climate agreement that will be agreed in Paris and will govern climate action between 2020 and 2030. Key components of an effective new agreement include:
- Emissions reductions contributions from all countries captured through Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs). Governments are expected to submit these in the first quarter of 2015 and so Geneva is an important opportunity to push for contributions at the highest end of the ambition spectrum;
- Scalable climate finance that is new, additional and from both public and private sector sources to drive development and deployment of low-carbon technologies. This is critical as both a stimulus for innovation and a way of bridging political divides between developed and developing countries.
- Enhanced mechanisms to improve transparency and accountability in monitoring climate ambition to encourage comparability of information and catalyze a race to the top
- Agreement on five-year commitment periods to enable governments to progressively increase ambition over time and in line with climate science. This is critical to avoid the temptation of locking in low-ambition pathways.
Finally, there is what business wants from the negotiations for the long view. Last week, business leaders came together to back a long-term decarbonization pathway. This call is perhaps the most important request of governments as this session begins. Only a commitment to net-zero-emissions well before the end of this century can provide the consistent and predictable policy environment that business needs to unleash a wave of innovation.
As a result governments need to conclude this session by ensuring that a global goal of net zero greenhouse gas emissions makes it into the draft negotiating text. For their part, businesses need to consider how best to match this ambition by making similar commitments of their own to decarbonization well before the end of this century.
More companies and investors are committed to bold leadership on climate action than at any time in history—in large part because they realize it simply makes good business sense. Forward-thinking businesses are reaping the benefits of taking bold climate action—seeing an IRR of 27% on their low carbon investment.
Bold climate action is not a burden, but a historic economic opportunity. And the next step in seizing that opportunity happens this week in Geneva.