Monday, September 29, 2014

Business Leadership at the UN Climate Summit

The recent UN Climate Summit on September 23, 2014 was different from previous meetings and one of the primary reasons for this is the fact that the business community is showing real leadership. As should be obvious to all, we will not be able to make substantial cuts in carbon emissions without support from the business and industry.

"The inclusion of business at the summit and over the past few years is a recognition that climate change is not a one-person issue," said Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, during a briefing call before the summit. "It is not a one-sector issue. It cannot be solve by one country, one sector, by one level of government. Climate is an every-person issue, and it requires everyone to work collaboratively in order to reach the solutions to the level and at the speed that we need to find."

At the summit companies made a total of eleven major pledges. This includes efforts to decrease deforestation, and support carbon pricing. Even key players in the oil and gas industry committed itself to reducing methane emissions.

Speaking to the subject of methane reductions, Nathaniel Keohane of the Environmental Defense Fund said, "This is an enormous opportunity" He went on to explain that methane is a potent greenhouse gas that accounts for one quarter of global warming.

A number of business coalitions are also working to increase sustainability, divest from fossil fuels and invest in renewable energy. This includes the We Mean Business Coalition, the Sustainability Charter for Business, and the Global Invest-Divest Coalition. Some companies have signed on to campaigns pledging to go 100% renewable

Investors are also showing leadership on climate change. As part of organizational effort like the Ceres Declaration, investors are also putting their money where their mouth is and supporting carbon pricing and clean energy initiatives.

"This is very different. It's not just policy leaders," says Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres. There's an "unprecedented" number of companies, investors and finance ministers involved, she says.

"It's a good news story I never would have predicted," says Charles McNeill, a senior policy adviser for the United Nations Development Program. He explained that we are seeing new new partnerships and coalitions forming and while these are mostly major companies, smaller ones will likely follow their lead.

"It's a very, very positive sign," Todd Stern, U.S. special envoy for climate change, said in a recent White House briefing. "Business is increasingly focused on trying to, in some cases, be part of the clean energy revolution."

The business communities involvement has never been more urgent, because as explained by Figueres, "We are running out of time...We can no longer afford the luxury of being gradual or incremental. We need very, very stark changes right away."

If leaders in the business community keep stepping up to the plate, it gives us reason to believe that hope for a climate agreement in 2015 is justified.

© 2014, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

Business and the UN Climate Summit
The Importance of the UN Climate Summit 2014
Eleven Business Pledges at the UN Climate Summit
The UN Climate Summit in NYC Gives Us Reason to Hope
UN Climate Summit: Ban Ki-moon Final Summary
President Obama's Address and other Highlights from the U.N. Climate Summit 
Climate Change and SDG's Dominate the 69th Session of the UN General Assembly
Historic People's Climate March Sends an Unprecedented Message to Leaders
UN Climate Summit: UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon
The UN Climate Summit: Eight Action Areas
Climate Week NYC: Events and Activities in Support of the UN Climate Summit
UN Climate Summit: Thematic Sessions and Programme
Investors Support the UN Climate Summit Objectives
UN Climate Summit: Thematic Sessions and Programme
Video - Whats Possible: A Short Film to be Presented at the UN Climate Summit

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