Global business commits to a low carbon future
Meeting at the Business for the Environment Summit (B4E) in Mexico City this month, the leaders of many major global corporations committed to reducing their carbon emissions and called on governments to advance international negotiations for an ambitious outcome at the Cancun talks, stressing the need for a global ‘level playing field’.
Reducing carbon and changing values
Business leaders committed to targets across a wide range of sectors:
- Energy companies present agreed to work towards achieving a target of 100% renewable energy production by 2050;
- ICT companies agreed to reduce 7.6 Gigatons of CO2 emissions by 2020;
- Building sector representatives committed to reduce emissions by 40% in new buildings by 2020 and improve energy efficiency by up to 40% in existing buildings.
Barbara Kux, Chief of Sustainability of Siemens, stressed the risks of climate change and the role of business:
“We all now recognize the huge problems that climate change is posing for our societies. We should now step up, lead and be part of the tidal wave of companies that bring the solutions our societies need.”
Companies also recognized their role in changing behaviour and values for a more equitable future, asserting the need to change supply chains to allow small and medium enterprises to participate in the Green Economy, and “talk and enlist the hundreds and thousands of employees that work for our companies as solution providers”.
Business calls for ambitious global policy and strong frameworks
Meeting ahead of November’s COP16 UN Climate Conference in Cancun, the business leaders called on governments to ensure an ambitious outcome at the Cancun talks, with a global ‘level playing field’ to enable these commitments and foster green entrepreneurship among and across industry sectors.
In their declaration at B4E, business leaders agreed that the creation of global policy and strong national legal frameworks is essential to avoid a major climate crisis comprising economic, political, health, environment, safety and other dimensions. Necessary national policy instruments include:
- financial mechanisms to offset initial costs and reallocate total costs along the life cycle of buildings,
- the phasing-out of fossil fuel subsidies,
- soft-loans on climate solutions,
- smart-grids, feed-in tariffs and buy-downs in energy that send the right signals to the marketplace.
In his keynote speech, former US Vice-President and Nobel Peace Prize Winner Al Gore said:
“We need the good companies to put pressure on all governments to lead by example and step up their domestic and global commitments.”
James Leape, Director General of WWF-International, said:
“Civil society and business can both take a role in speaking-up so that the right policy-frameworks are put in place as well as in communicating the solutions which are already available. We should all recognize that international negotiations on climate are not moving at the pace needed. This business summit, held immediately before Cancun, should stimulate all governments to act in order to unleash business potential to transform our economies.”
Building sustainable and resilient low-carbon societies
Companies acknowledged that entrepreneurial action to address climate change can play a critical role in stimulating a global economic recovery, creating new jobs and building more sustainable and resilient low-carbon societies.
UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said:
“Many businesses, including those at the B4E Summit, are signaling leadership and seizing the opportunities of the climate change challenge. Why? Because many see rising risks to profits from the impacts of rising greenhouse gases but also an opportunity to become far more resource efficient and innovative enterprises. Governments at the UN climate convention meeting in Cancun and beyond have a responsibility to support these aims and actions by signaling their determination to set the kinds of national and global policy frameworks able to accelerate and sustain these transformations.”
Georg Kell, Executive Director of the UN Global Compact, commented:
“While governments hold the key to setting the right signals and incentives, it is business that provides the solutions we need. Now is the time to support the many efforts that already exist, to ensure that low-carbon innovation is shared widely and to mobilize those still sitting on the fence. We cannot afford to wait any longer.”
About the Business for the Environment summit
The summit is the world’s main conference on global business dialogue and action on the environment, and is jointly organised by Global Initiatives, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the United Nations Global Compact. It was hosted by the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Mexican Ministry of Environment and the Mexican Ministry of Energy, and supported by WWF.
Company participants included Walmart, The Coca-Cola Company, Grupo Bimbo, PepsiCo, Hewlett Packard, AP Moeller Maersk, Cemex, Tata and Sons, Acciona, Siemens, Nestle, McKinsey, Volvo Group, British Telecom Group, amongst others.
The message for Cancun
Next month, the world’s governments will gather in Cancun, Mexico, for the UN Climate Conference. A key focus of the conference will be how a transition towards a Green Economy model can both reduce worldwide carbon dioxide emissions and bring economic benefits.
The message from business leaders at B4E is that many companies are already addressing today’s climate challenges by transforming the way they operate and achieving benefits both for the environment and for their own companies. Their statement calls for governments to follow suit by promoting the Green Economy model and creating a path towards a low-carbon future.
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