PARIS, May 21 – An unprecedented mobilization 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.
The Business & Climate Summit brought together 2000 international business leaders, policymakers and investors to Paris.
The Summit was opened by François Hollande, President of the French Republic,and concluded with video-message from US Secretary of State, John Kerry and speech by French Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius.
It demonstrated a clear recognition that businesses are already taking action to build the prosperous, low- carbon economy of the future. The key message – in all sectors, business has developed solutions, continues to innovate and is preparing to accelerate the scale and pace of deployment.
Business leaders called on policymakers to leverage public funds and private sector finance towards low-carbon assets; to introduce carefully designed, robust and predictable carbon pricing; and to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies
Welcoming the delegates to the Summit, UN Secretary General 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.”
Business Calls for Action
Business leaders at the Summit made a number of calls to policymakers for more climate action and to introduce climate policies. Among these were:
- Introduction of robust and effective carbon pricing mechanisms as a key component to gear investment and orient consumer behaviour towards low carbon solutions and achieve global net emissions at the least economic costs. The first goal is to boost energy efficiency. It also includes the elimination of fossil fuel subsidies to redirect consumption to clean energy sources. Such policies need to be carefully designed and implemented to avoid competitive distortions in some specific sectors.
- The establishment of an alliance between business and governments leading to the integration of climate policies into the mainstream economy. This should include enhanced public-private dialogues at global and national level, backed by a commitment to raise ambition in line with developments in climate science.
- A call for policy-makers to leverage public funds and private sector finance, and to de-risk investment towards low-carbon assets, especially in developing countries. This should surpass the $100 billion per year pledged in Copenhagen in order to shift the trillions of dollars needed to build the low carbon, climate-resilient economy.
Paul Polman, Chief Executive of Unilever and a world recognized business leader 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 a clear and credible signal to businesses that low-carbon policies will endure.”
Other business leaders stressed that ambitious and smart policies from government – both national and international – are required to help more companies take low-carbon solutions to scale. Most businesses can be winners if this transition to a low carbon economy is made predictable by robust, long-term policies.
Summit attendees also demonstrated significant shift in attitudes regarding the calls from the scientific community for a global climate deal at United Nations’ COP 21 Summit later in the year. Business believes this objective is achievable and compatible with continued economic growth and human development if all actors work together in this urgent and long term climate battle.
Jean-Pascal Tricoire, Chief Executive and Chairman of Schneider Electric and Chairman of Global Compact France, said “The difference between now and three years ago is that nobody in business really dares to say climate change is not happening. Companies have actually taken commitments on emissions reductions. With bold, clear and long-term climate policies to keep within the +2°C threshold, business will create growth, jobs and continuous innovation on the way to a prosperous low-carbon economy.”
Finance is a key issue
The Summit also addressed how climate change issues are impacting on the investment community. They recognized that dealing with climate change challenges will require a re-direction and mobilization of traditional investment flows. As well, innovative mechanisms to leverage public finance and to use finance effectively in all economic sectors in developed and developing countries will be critical.
Mats Anderson, Chief Executive of Swedish National Government Pension Fund, AP4 said “Putting a price on carbon is absolutely key: it will send the right signal to the market, the investors and the polluting companies. And at the same time it will reward the leaders who take climate change seriously. Last but not least, it will push more money into investments in renewables and green infrastructure.”
The business leaders called for more ambition on the part of national governments in their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) to the UN Climate Fund and announced that they will actively support leadership from policymakers who set clear frameworks to accelerate investment and deployment of climate- friendly solutions.
Terry McGraw, Chairman Emeritus of McGraw Hill Financial and Chairman of the International Chamber of Commerce said “We hope the Business Climate Summit will be seen as a turning point for business inestablishing an enhanced dialogue with national and international policymakers in the run-up to COP21. We call for an ambitious global agreement at COP21 which works withbusiness to speed emissions reductions and build climate resilience.”
“We have reached the turning point in making our response to climate change real, viable and inevitable. Organisations here, working with over six million companies, want to work with governments to build a clean, predictable and transformative path toward a safe and profitable future.” Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
The Business & Climate Summit was initiated following the UN Secretary General’s call for the private sector to take a more active role in the world decarbonization process at the UN Climate Summit in New York last year. As a midway point between that meeting in New York and COP 21 later this year in Paris, it marked a key moment for the business voice on climate action to be raised and heard by policymakers.