‘Phase out fossil fuels by 2040s’ businesses urge world leaders ahead of COP28We Mean Business Coalition
A month before the UN climate summit (COP28) takes place in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, businesses, including Volvo Cars, BT Group plc, Vodafone, Heineken, Mahindra Group, Godrej Industries Limited, Unilever, JLL, Bayer, Royal Philips, Ørsted, IKEA, Nestle, eBay, Decathlon and Iberdrola are urging governments to begin the work to phase out fossil fuels.
In an open letter, more than 125 companies, representing nearly $1trillion in global annual revenue, call on heads of state and government attending COP28 to address the primary cause of climate change: the burning of fossil fuels. Signatories call on leaders to set clear targets and timelines for phasing down and out unabated* fossil fuels, and back that up with policies enabling the rapid scaling of clean energy.
The letter, coordinated by the We Mean Business Coalition, a business-focussed non-profit working to accelerate climate action globally, states: “Our businesses are feeling the impacts and cost of increasing extreme weather events resulting from climate change. […] To decarbonise the global energy system, we need to ramp up clean energy as fast as we phase out the use and production of fossil fuels. This means turbocharging the renewables revolution, electrifying key sectors and massively improving efficiency — thereby creating the conditions for a rapid, well-managed and just transition away from fossil fuels. […]
“We call on all Parties attending COP28 to seek outcomes that will lay the groundwork to transform the global energy system towards a full phase-out of unabated fossil fuels and halve emissions this decade.”
The 131 signatories of the letter span Europe, Asia, Australia, North America and South America; represent many sectors, including power, road transport, health, tech, logistics, consumer goods and more; and include multinationals and SMEs — both vital in the just transition to a decarbonised global economy.
Anders Kärrberg, Global Head of Sustainability at Volvo Cars, said: “We know that phasing out fossil fuels is the only way forward if we are to limit global warming and keep people safe from climate catastrophe. But businesses cannot do this alone. Together with We Mean Business Coalition, Volvo Cars calls on all Parties attending COP28 to seek outcomes that will lay the groundwork to transform the global energy system towards a full phase-out of unabated fossil fuels.”
Fossil fuels account for roughly 80 per cent of global energy supply, a figure that has barely changed for more than 25 years. The International Energy Agency (IEA) recently projected for the first time that fossil fuel consumption would peak before 2030 and then fall into decline, but this will only happen if planned policies and commitments are delivered. Moreover, the science tells us global emissions must peak by 2025 and halve by 2030 to keep the goal of limiting global heating to 1.5°C within reach.
María Mendiluce, CEO of We Mean Business Coalition, said: “At a global level, we’ve made great strides in scaling-up clean energy solutions. Yet we’re not reversing the trend on rising global emissions — a battle we will keep losing until we address the underlying cause: the combustion of fossil fuels.
“More than 80 countries rallied behind a call to phase out all fossil fuels at COP27, but action is not happening fast enough. The climate and economic warnings are clear. We need immediate, decisive action on a just and equitable transition from fossil fuels to a clean energy system.”
The letter states the transition to net zero ‘could boost global GDP by 4% by 2030’ and calls on the collective efforts of financial institutions, fossil fuel producers and policymakers to work with business to deliver decarbonisation securely and efficiently. Signatories also highlight their support for a tripling of renewable energy capacity – agreed by G20 leaders in September – urging a global target of at least 11,000GW alongside the doubling of the rate of energy efficiency by 2030.
Mads Nipper, CEO of Ørsted said: “In order to stay below the 1.5°C threshold and avoid catastrophic and irreversible damage, it is time to give up business as usual. Green energy is the most impactful solution for fighting global heating, and in our race against time, we need to build it now. We know that to lift this agenda, bold decisions and unprecedented collaborative action are required at all levels of society – within and between industries, businesses, and countries.”
The letter signatories urge all governments to:
- Set targets and timelines for the phase-out of unabated fossil fuels in line with 1.5°C, supported by national plans and policies to ensure a just transition for affected workers and communities. Wealthier countries have the responsibility to be first movers and support other countries in their efforts.
- Accelerate the clean energy transition by committing to reach 100% decarbonized power systems by 2035 in advanced economies, and by 2040 for other countries, at the latest.
- Support countries in the Global South in diversifying their energy systems and developing 1.5°C-aligned economic pathways, including through the provision both of finance that does not exacerbate unsustainable sovereign debt, and of capacity-building for just transition planning. This must be part of a broader alignment of public and private financial flows with the objective of an equitable global phase-out of fossil fuels.
- Ensure clear pricing signals through a meaningful price on carbon that reflects the full costs of climate change — and reform and repurpose fossil fuel subsidies toward energy efficiency, renewable energy and other measures to support a people-centred and equitable clean energy transition.
The letter is organised by the We Mean Business Coalition and supported by partners including BSR, CDP, Ceres, Climate Group, CLG Europe, The B Team, WBCSD, CLG UK, Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL), WWF, Exponential Roadmap Initiative, Global Renewables Alliance and UNICEF.
Renée Morin, Chief Sustainability Officer of eBay said: “Business and government must take decisive action to transition from fossil fuels to clean energy. By working together, we can create equitable solutions for communities everywhere.”
We Mean Business Coalition recently launched the Fossil to Clean campaign to mobilise businesses and governments for the decisive action needed to phase out fossil fuels and ramp up clean solutions. While recognising the great strides taken to scale-up climate solutions over recent years, the campaign highlights the continued burning of fossil fuels as the primary driver of climate change and demands immediate action from business and government. The letter to UNFCCC leaders is informed by the Fossil to Clean Principles for Global Fossil Fuel Phase-out.
* IPCC AR6 WG3 2022. “Unabated fossil fuels refers to fossil fuels produced and used without interventions that substantially reduce the amount of GHG emitted throughout the life-cycle; for example, capturing 90% or more from power plants, or 50-80% of fugitive methane emissions from energy supply.” Storage must be on a geological timescale. WGIII Summary for Policymakers Headline Statements (ipcc.ch).
Notes to editors
For interviews and further information, and for an embargoed link to the letter for insertion into online copy, please contact [email protected] +44 7432 533 080
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