Corporates unite to deliver post-Paris climate action plans

James Murray
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Business leaders underline support for climate action in run up to crucial Paris Summit, as more than 60 firms sign up to new carbon targets

New York Climate Week continues today with more than 200 business leaders gathering as part of a renewed push to help ensure this year's Paris Climate Summit delivers an ambitious new international agreement.

The Low Carbon Technology Partnerships initiative (LCTPi), which is being organised by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), will see a host of industries develop new 'action plans' designed to ensure they deliver steep emissions reductions in the wake of a Paris deal.

WBSCD said today would see business leaders take part in nine working groups covering low carbon freight, renewables, carbon capture and storage, energy efficiency in buildings, cement, chemicals, low carbon transport fuels, climate smart agriculture, and forests. Each group will be tasked with finalising plans that set out the "concrete actions" the sectors can take to support any agreement.

The final plans will be presented at the Paris Summit in December in a bid to demonstrate how the business sector can make a "significant contribution" to global efforts to limit temperature increases to 2C.

Representatives from more than 140 companies, including from global brands such as Kellogg's, Monsanto, PepsiCo, Shell and Unilever, will take part in the round table meetings, which will be opened with an address from French climate ambassador Laurence Tubiana.

"The LCTPi of the WBCSD is a very promising example of the power of cooperation, both among companies and together with governments, to deliver concrete and practical solutions to the challenge of the transition to a deeply decarbonized economy," Tubiana will say. "I hope the LCTPi can make a real difference, by enabling scaled up low-carbon technology innovation, and accelerated low-carbon technology diffusion."

She added that the new business action plans would be "key" to supporting the system of national action plans, known as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), being put forward by governments ahead of the Paris Summit.

Peter Bakker, president and chief executive of WBCSD, said there was a compelling business case for firms to support the new action plans. "Forward-thinking companies recognise that ambitious climate action is their biggest business opportunity for the foreseeable future," he said. "LCTPi brings together 140 of the world's leading businesses to collaborate on transformational low-carbon action plans that are not only good for putting those companies in pole position for success in the low-carbon world, but can also lead transformational change through a significant reduction in global carbon emissions."

The meeting comes on the same day the NGO-backed Science Based Targets initiative, which is encouraging businesses to sign up to emissions reductions targets in line with the recommendations of the UN's scientific advisory body the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, provided an update confirming over 60 firms have now adopted the targets.

The initiative, which this month saw Siemens and Procter and Gamble (P&G) become the latest high profile firms to sign up, calls on companies to adopt more ambitious and scientifically credible emissions reductions targets. For example, P&G said it would cut emissions 30 per cent against 20210 levels by 2020, while Siemens said it would halve its emissions by 2020.

The initiative is backed by the CDP, United Nations Global Compact, World Resources Institute and WWF and was launched after CDP's work to encourage firms to report on their climate strategies found that while over 80 per cent of the world's largest firms now have emissions reduction targets many are not ambitious enough to avert dangerous levels of climate change.

"Climate plays a significant role in the long term viability of our business," said Catherine Gunsbury, director of sustainability and transparency at General Mills, which also recently signed up to the initiative. "We recognise that we must do our part to protect and conserve natural resources. Our business depends on it and so does the planet. By establishing science-based targets that encompass our full value chain, we're committing to a high level of ambition. Innovation and collaboration will be critical to realising benefits for both our company and our shared planet."

The latest Climate Week developments also come on the same day the UN kicks off its Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) conference, where countries are due to ratify 17 new development goals that are expected to have a major impact on the international environmental and economic policy landscape over the next 15 years.

This article is part of BusinessGreen's Road to Paris hub, hosted in association with PwC

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