Business Leaders are Vanguard of Movement To Take Climate Action

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – Two hundred days before the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris, the Business & Climate Summit in May provided an opportunity for business and government leaders to demonstrate bold action, adopt forward-looking strategies and call for ambitious policies that will allow to scale up solutions. An unprecedented mobilisation of 25 worldwide business networks representing over 6.5 million companies from more than 130 countries pledged to lead the global transition to a low-carbon, climate resilient economy. They called on policymakers to agree on carbon pricing mechanisms, closer collaboration between business and government on climate policies and a joint public and private sector fund for investing in low-carbon technology, particularly in developing countries.

This meeting comes as UN negotiators are pulling together enough emissions reduction commitments to prevent more than 2C of global warming, the level political leaders agreed in 2009 as likely to prevent the worst effects of climate change. These final commitments are needed ahead of the summit of world leaders this December. Business believes this is achievable and compatible with continued economic growth and human development. Paul Polman, CEO, of Unilever, said: “When faced with the challenges of climate change, businesses should be part of the solution. Companies that have seized low-carbon opportunities are increasingly seeing rewards. To go further, we need a strong international climate agreement that sends clear and credible signal to businesses that low-carbon policies will endure.”

What is different between now and three years ago is that nobody in business really dares to say climate change is not happening. Companies have made commitments on emissions reductions with bold, clear and long-term climate policies to keep within the +2°C threshold. At this summit it was also agreed that focus needs to be given to the developing world where funding mechanisms should be set up to fight poverty while at the same time heading towards a low-carbon development path.

There are huge opportunities for business and climate, but there are also tough choices to be made. Real honesty is needed from the business community to stay on the right side of the climate change line, while new business sectors need to grow; others will need to adapt and importantly, some will have to consign themselves to history. Secretary General of the UN, Ban Ki Moon, said: “This is an important milestone on the way to the Paris climate conference in December. It shows that the engagement of the private sector that began at the Climate Summit in New York last September has continued. Business leaders are now in the vanguard of the movement to take climate action.”

There is no doubt that forward-looking companies and business leaders are taking the lead by transforming their business models for climate action, yet these leaders represent only a fraction of the business community. To truly be able to address the challenge of climate change, more needs to be done. Only through a critical mass of engaged companies can the private sector be an effective part of the climate solution.

Photo Credit: Takver