PARIS: Some 25 business networks representing over 6.5 million companies from more than 130 countries have announced they want to lead the global transition to a low-carbon, climate resilient economy.
Opening the Business & Climate Summit held at UNESCO headquarters this week, French president François Hollande told 2000 business leaders, policymakers and investors: "You must, here in Paris, make commitments, offer solutions and success will also be yours. Because if we take the expected actions, if we make the choices that are hoped for, I am sure it will have extremely positive consequences on economic actors, on future technologies, on employment and on growth."
The business leaders say they want politicians 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.
Unilever CEO Paul Polman observed: "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."
Ahead of the Paris summit, 82 of the world's leading companies met to progress the Low Carbon Technology Partnerships initiative (LCTPi) led by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), the International Energy Agency and IEA and Sustainable Development Solutions Network.
According to Peter Bakker, former head of TNT Express and now CEO of the WBCSD: "Ambitious climate action is the biggest opportunity for business. Incremental change is no longer enough – we need a massive transformation across our societies, policies and economies in order to limit the rise in global temperature to under two degrees."
One of the LCTPi objectives is to reduce the freight industry's current 10 percent contribution to global carbon emissions by bringing together the supply and demand side to create a long-term set of solutions as well as a business-driven realistic roadmap. The results will be presented at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris in December.
Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change added: "We have reached the turning point in making our response to climate change real, viable and inevitable. Organizations want to work with governments to build a clean, predictable and transformative path toward a safe and profitable future."
In a related move, Marks and Spencer has become the latest company to announce it will source 100 percent of its future energy requirement from renewables. It joins other leading brands including Unilever, Infosys, H&M, Ikea, Mars and Nestlé.