Companies Take on Climate Change with "We Mean Business"

Jul 9, 2018 9:15 AM ET
Blog

The We Mean Business coalition was formed to organize a critical mass of the business world to make progress on climate change. With its no-nonsense brand name, formidable numbers, and world-class leadership, the coalition is poised to be a dominant player in directing businesses toward taking stands on strategies and practices that define climate change as a business opportunity, not just an environmental disaster.

And quite a group it is, bringing together the memberships, networks, and missions of seven international nonprofit organizations, all major players in driving environmental policy through business activities: BSR, CDP, Ceres, The B Team, The Climate Group, The Prince of Wales Corporate Leadership Group, and WBCSD. The association’s mission statement sets a very ambitious goal: “...to ensure that the world economy is on track to avoid dangerous climate change by 2020 while delivering sustainable growth and prosperity for all.”

That mission is a measure of two conclusions. One, that governments are failing in their historic role as policy makers. Two, that only through increased prosperity can the public will be generated to pursue a global economy based on progressive practices that consider the environment.

The coalition’s bold stand has attracted a €40 million grant from the IKEA Foundation, a strong gesture of support from a company that has positioned itself as a pioneer in renewable energy and GHG-emissions reduction.

The June update from We Mean Business highlights a number of initiatives, the most significant of which is the Declaration of Ambition. In this statement, more than 20 countries—including the UK, Canada, Germany, and Sweden—outline a challenge to all the signatories of the Paris Agreement to “raise the ambition” of their national climate plans. The goal is to inspire others to step up their commitments in the face of the inertia, if not the outright hostility (c.f. the current US administration) of government.

That’s the thing about coalitions, they’re contagious—they can inspire action through collaboration that would be much more difficult when taken by individual actors.

As noted in a previous BTS Newsletter, climate change is now at the top of the agenda for S&P 500 companies. We may not need a weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing, but We Mean Business is a good guide for companies in navigating today’s stormy socio-political seas toward profits as well as the collective good.

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Written by veteran journalist, John Howell, this newsletter is published every Wednesday morning.