Global CEOs issue rallying call for 'ambitious' COP21 deal

Madeleine Cuff

Coalition of 71 chief executives urges world leaders to reach strong climate deal in Paris, claiming low-carbon transition will create jobs and drive economic growth

A coalition of 71 chief executives from some of the world's largest companies has today called on global leaders to "reach an ambitious climate deal" at the UN climate change conference in Paris, further cranking up pressure on the talks to succeed.

In an open statement bosses at a host of multinational firms, including Ikea, Lloyd's, Philips Lighting, PepsiCo, Siemens and Deutsche Telekom, said that a "comprehensive, inclusive and ambitious climate deal in Paris", in combination with a "strong set of clear policy signals from the world's leaders", is key to accelerating a global transition to a low-carbon economy.

The signatories, who collectively are responsible for $2.3tr in revenue, equivalent to India's GDP, argued such a transition would benefit the global economy.

"Hastening the shift to a low-carbon economy in an economically sustainable manner will generate growth and jobs in both the developing and developed world," the statement said.

"Delaying action is not an option - it will be costly and will damage growth prospects in the years to come. The CEO climate leaders call on government leaders and policy makers to align on global measures, to be consistent in policy-making and to develop helpful innovation frameworks."

The statement - which was co-ordinated by the World Economic Forum - also backs an "explicit or implicit" price on carbon and encourages governments to set "science-based" targets for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

The business leaders also said they support calls for companies to assess their resilience to climate risks and would welcome greater use of green bonds and other financial tools to stimulate investment in clean energy and energy efficiency projects.

The message was welcomed by the UN's top climate official Christiana Figueres, who said action on climate change represents a "massive economic opportunity".

"This is the first intentionally directed industrial revolution and will be the source of good new jobs and strong growth for the coming decades, something developing countries are increasingly realizing and taking the lead on," she said in a statement.

World leaders from more than 150 nations will make their way to Paris next week for the start of the UN's climate change conference, where a global agreement to tackle greenhouse gas emissions is expected to be finalised.

The intervention from business leaders comes on the same day as former Labour leader Ed Miliband called on the government to ensure the UK becomes the first country in the world to enshrine a zero carbon emissions target in law. Writing in the Guardian, Miliband said setting a new target through the Climate Change Act to deliver net zero emissions would provide "an essential framework for business and government" to step up investment in low carbon infrastructure.

It is the latest in a series of interventions from political leaders and public figures on climate change as media and public attention intensifies ahead of the Paris Summit.

More than 60 Hindu leaders have today signed a climate declaration calling for governments to take urgent action to tackle carbon emissions at next week's talks. It also calls on the world's 900 million Hindus to minimise their environmental impact by using clean energy, adopting a plant-based diet, and leading lives "in harmony with the natural world".

It follows similar declarations from Islamic, Christian and Buddhist leaders, as well as the Pope's encyclical on climate change published in June.

Meanwhile, in an interview with Sky due to be broadcast later today, Prince Charles has warned that conflict over resources will increase in the future without tough international action on climate change.

The heir to the British throne linked the ongoing conflict in Syria with a prolonged drought in the country - a connection that has been made before by the World Resources Institute (WRI).

Prince Charles will attend the Paris conference next week to deliver a keynote speech on climate change to delegates at the opening ceremony.

As fears over an imminent terrorist attack persist in Brussels, US President Barack Obama has pleaded with world leaders not to let security fears impede the success of the Paris talks.

Obama said on Sunday that the Paris talks offer the first chance for governments to show terrorists that the recent attacks will not harm global co-operation and unity on international issues. "I think it's absolutely vital for every country, every leader, to send a signal that the viciousness of a handful of killers does not stop the world from doing vital business," Obama said.

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

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