Ahead of next week’s COP25 meeting, Nigel Topping of We Mean Business and Elizabeth McKeon of the IKEA Foundation say companies can play a vital role in keeping global warming below 1.5C, but only if the entire business community is on board
As Madrid steps forward to host December’s COP25 meeting, we are calling on businesses and policymakers to redouble their efforts to decarbonise the global economy. The challenge of mitigating climate change is everyone’s business. It requires transformational change across all sectors at scale and speed.
We are making progress. Leading governments and companies are taking action to create the net-zero carbon economies of the future and striving to limit global warming to no more than 1.5C.
Policymakers are gaining the confidence to set even more ambitious targets at national, regional, state and city levels. Company leaders should welcome this as an opportunity to help create exponential impact in the world for good. We strongly believe that protecting our planet and sustainable business growth go hand in hand.
An accelerated transition to carbon neutrality is now technically possible and commercially viable. Where we can go faster, we will; renewable is doable
Now, more than ever before, leaders in the C-suite and boardroom are swiftly redefining the private sector’s purpose by looking for innovative ways to make responsible, positive contributions to society that pave the way for a zero-carbon future.
For example, more than 200 companies are committed to 100% renewable electricity use across their global operations. Leading the way, Unilever has already achieved 100% renewable grid electricity use across Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and North America.
As Unilever’s chief supply chain officer, Marc Engel, said: “An accelerated transition to carbon neutrality is now technically possible and commercially viable. Where we can go faster, we will; renewable is doable.”
One of the most important actions that companies can take to tackle climate change is one we expect to see much more of in 2020: the act of unprecedented collaboration. The time for thinking in siloes is over. We need to work together to continue building a movement of movements.
More than 1,000 companies are now committed to taking bold climate action through We Mean Business coalition initiatives. Together, they represent nearly a quarter of the world’s GDP. Among them are more than 160 industrial companies, like Ferrovial, Ingersoll-Rand and Johnson Controls, and 40 power utilities, including Iberdrola, Ørsted, CLP Group and Enel.
In our experience, collaboration to tackle climate change is most effective when paired with strong ambition from the private and public sectors. Hundreds of large corporations are taking bold steps to transform their industries and reduce emissions and climate impact throughout their operations and supply chains. National governments are welcoming this ambition as they try to fulfil their commitment to the Paris Agreement. We believe that leadership from the private sector can encourage policymakers and civil society to increase their own ambitions and show how policies and targets can be translated into action.
Helping to solve a systemic problem like climate change is an opportunity for companies to unleash innovation
The shift toward collaboration does not mean sacrificing profits or competitiveness in the global marketplace. On the contrary, helping to solve a systemic problem like climate change is an opportunity for companies to unleash innovation, develop new markets and protect supply chains.
Just over five years ago, the We Mean Business coalition launched during Climate Week New York, bringing together seven international non-profit organisations to catalyse business leadership, drive policy ambition and accelerate the transition to a zero-carbon economy.
Today, we can say that a zero-carbon economy is achievable. We can make it happen if we both dramatically decarbonise our economy and harness the full potential of nature-based solutions. This means transforming the way we use land and produce food alongside fully decarbonising our power and transport systems, eliminating our dependence on fossil fuels and dramatically changing how we plan, construct, retrofit and manage our built environment.
The momentum we are witnessing today shows that it is possible by 2050 or sooner – if this energy is fully harnessed.
Business can fulfil its vital role in helping to solve the urgent problem of climate change by embracing collaboration. Central to this is reaching out to other businesses, talking to customers and engaging with policy makers to find shared and innovative solutions that will enable the zero-carbon economy of the future. But the window of opportunity is closing. We need to work faster, and we need the entire business community onboard.
As world leaders meet for COP25, actions need to keep pace with words. Now is the time for governments and businesses to make good their commitments by accelerating the delivery of climate action to ensure global warming is limited to no more than 1.5C.
Facts and figures
1,000+ companies are now committed to taking bold climate action through the coalition partners’ initiatives.
They represent $20.1tn market capitalisation, nearly one-quarter of global GDP.
Their total emissions are equivalent to those of India.
Committed companies include 160+ industrial companies like Ferrovial, Ingersoll-Rand and Johnson Controls.
Seven of the world’s 10 largest consumer goods companies have made commitments.
100+companies have now pledged to do their part to keep warming to 1.5°C.
60 + power utilities are committed to climate action including Iberdrola, Ørsted, CLP Group and Enel.
200+ companies are committed to 100% renewable electricity use across their global operations through RE100.
Unilever has achieved 100% renewable grid electricity use across Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and North America.
50 + energy smart companies are making smarter use of energy, with EP100 boosting the bottom line and increasing competitiveness.
60+ companies are accelerating the transition to electric vehicles, with EV100 helping to make electric transport the new normal by 2030.
We Mean Business has brought the voice of over 200 companies to engage policymakers in the US, EU, Japan and beyond, advocating for increased policy ambition and enabling environments. 24 EU member states now support net-zero by 2050.
Nigel Topping is CEO of We Mean Business, a global non-profit coalition catalysing business action and driving policy ambition to accelerate the zero-carbon transition. Their mission is to ensure that the world economy is on track to avoid dangerous climate change by 2020 while delivering sustainable growth and prosperity for all. www.wemeanbusinesscoalition.org
Elizabeth McKeon is head of climate action portfolio at the IKEA Foundation (Stichting IKEA Foundation). As the philanthropic arm of INGKA Foundation, the owner of the Ingka Group of companies, they focus on improving the lives of vulnerable children by enabling their families to create sustainable livelihoods, and to fight and cope with climate change. www.IKEAfoundation.org
We Mean Business renewable energy COP25 energy transition Unilever zero-carbon