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Global business leaders urge governments to drive climate action

Leaders of 50 major global businesses representing more than $1.5 trillion in total revenue have appealed in an open letter to world government leaders urging greater collaboration in driving climate action.

The letter was published ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference COP24, which is underway in Katowice, Poland.

Thirty of the companies that signed the open letter have succeeded in reducing emissions by 9% between 2015 and 2016, the equivalent of taking ten million cars off the road for one year.

“If we have twelve years to avoid a ‘hothouse’ earth, we absolutely cannot pursue a business-as-usual approach,” said Dominic Waughray, head of the centre for global public goods, and member of the managing board for the World Economic Forum.

Waughray added: “Business and government must forge new partnerships that are able to drive results much more quickly than our current international architecture allows.”

The Alliance of Climate CEOs also provided input into the UNFCCC Talanoa Dialogue and companies will be looking for a clear signal from COP24 negotiations that governments are willing to strengthen their engagement with the private sector.

When they meet in Davos in January 2019, a clear focus will be on setting goals for the UN Secretary General’s Climate Summit in September 2019 to further support the urgent action needed.

Carbon pricing mechanisms

Alliance leaders are calling for greater public-private cooperation to accelerate effective carbon pricing mechanisms and policies to incentivise low-carbon investment and drive demand for carbon-reduction solutions.

They also highlight the business case for cutting emissions to generate wider support in the private sector. Read more: World Bank announces five-year action plan for climate change at COP24

“Business has an increasingly vital role to play in accelerating the shift to a low-carbon and climate-resilient economy. This will require partnerships with other companies, governments at all levels and civil society. It also requires bold leadership and good governance, which will allow long-term creation of shareholder value alongside long-term value for our society,” said Feike Sijbesma, chief executive officer and chairman of the managing board, Royal DSM, and Chair of the Alliance of CEO Climate Leaders.

“We, as business leaders, are committed to climate action and stand ready to facilitate fast-track solutions to help world leaders deliver on an enhanced and more ambitious action plan to tackle climate change and meet the goals set out at the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement,” Sijbesma added.

Driving climate action

Among measures taken by members of the Alliance to drive climate action within their businesses:

BT: The UK-based telecom provider is aiming to buy 100% renewable energy by 2020, and to have reduced carbon intensity by 87% from 2017 levels by 2030. It is also aiming to help customers cut emissions by three times its own total carbon impact by 2030.

ENGIE: Having cut coal-fired capacity by 60% since 2016 by closing or selling plants, the France-based energy group has adopted an internal carbon price and is now focusing on low CO2e energy sources like natural gas and renewables, which will represent over 90% of its earnings by 2018.

ING Group: By 2025, the banking group will only finance existing utility clients that use coal for 5% or less of their energy mix. New clients will only be financed if they have near-zero reliance on coal. As of November 2017, 60% of all utility project financing went towards renewables.

Ørsted: Changed its name in 2017 from Danish Oil and Natural Gas (DONG) Energy to signify its switch from oil and gas to renewable energy. The company has committed to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emission intensity from energy production by 96% by 2023, using a 2006 base-year.

Royal DSM: The Netherlands-based global business in health, nutrition and sustainable living was established in 1902 as a nationalised coal mining company. This year it has committed to an absolute GHG emissions reduction of 30% (2016-2030, Scope 1+2), among other by using 75% purchased renewable electricity by 2030. Royal DSM uses an internal carbon price of €50 per ton of CO2e.

Signify: Formerly Philips Lighting, the company has committed to achieve net-zero carbon buildings by 2030 and to operate a 100% electric and hybrid lease fleet by 2030.