Global business leaders and ministers pledge action on climate and energy: Event in London
- 28 April 2014
LONDON: Multinational businesses and politicians from around the world have agreed to work together to encourage companies to adopt clean energy and support climate policy at the national and international level. Leaders including Rt Hon Ed Davey MP and Rt Hon Alex Salmond MSP joined speakers from China, India and Australia in unveiling plans for a ‘Clean Revolution' at The Climate Group's anniversary event in London on April 28.
Mark Kenber, CEO of The Climate Group, told the organization’s 10th anniversary conference in London that, in response to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) call to accelerate investment in clean technologies, it is working with companies on a range of new initiatives to scale up climate finance, develop low carbon business models, and help governments replicate proven emission reduction policies. He unveiled plans to recruit more companies to commit to a 100% renewables target by 2020, a new smart homes initiative, a program to enable access to clean energy in rural India, accelerating the take-up of LED street lighting across cities, a major summit in China to promote networking among global cleantech businesses, and working with the UN Secretary General on a series of events around September’s Climate Summit in New York.
The Climate Group – launched exactly 10 years ago to work with businesses and governments to promote the positive business case around clean energy and technology – said the IPCC’s call for a ‘clean revolution’ was within reach. “About 80% of the energy, technology, finance and policy needed to make the transition to a low carbon economy is already in place,” said Mark Kenber. “We need to focus on scaling up and replicating the proven solutions. It’s a no-brainer for any smart business or political leader. The global clean tech market is already worth over US$2.5 trillion, and will grow to more than US$5 trillion in size within the next 10 years – about the same as the GDP of Germany and France combined.”
Speaking at the first major international conference of business and political leaders since the publication of the IPCC Working Group III report, UK Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change, Rt Hon Ed Davey MP, said that businesses were key to delivering emission reductions before a new global treaty comes into force. He said: “As The Climate Group has consistently demonstrated, there is a huge business opportunity for those who grasp the green mantle. For a business to gamble that climate change won't happen just doesn’t make commercial sense. No boardroom worth its salt can avoid making the long-term risk assessments climate change threats require.”
Addressing the audience via video, the First Minister of Scotland, Rt Hon Alex Salmond MSP, highlighted that global corporations were investing in Scotland and transforming it into a world-leading hub of wave, tidal and offshore wind energy. He said: “Our renewable energy targets aren’t just good for the environment, they’re good for the economy. They provide certainty for business and investors. Billions of pounds are being invested in infrastructure, and thousands of jobs are being created.”
In spite of the federal government’s current stance, the Premier of South Australia, Hon Jay Weatherill MP, announced that his state government was hitting its 2020 renewable energy target of 33% six years early, and that the state’s GDP had jumped 65% since it had decided to adopt the goal of building a low carbon economy. He stated: “Since 2003, there has been $5.5 billion in investment in renewable energy with some $2 billion, or 40%, occurring in regional areas.”
Also speaking at the event was China’s Ambassador to London, HE Liu Xiaoming, who said that ‘eco-civilization’ was the new guiding principle behind China’s current economic strategy, and that international collaboration and consensus was needed around a new low carbon economic growth paradigm. He also said that China would shortly unveil how it proposed to work with international partners in support of the Paris 2015 climate treaty negotiations.
Suresh Prabhu, Ex-Federal Cabinet Minister of Industry, Energy, Environment and Forests, Chemicals and Fertilizers, Heavy Industry & Public Enterprises, Government of India, said that India possessed huge potential as an emerging market for the low carbon economy. He said that The Climate Group was actively cultivating links between state governments and business investors, and pointed to a major program delivering clean energy to thousands of people living off the grid in India as a model for sustainable development in other less developed regions. “When it comes to the impacts of climate change, millions of people across India are already being affected. In our efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change, protect our livelihoods and people, India needs to take a proactive leadership role. There is incredible potential for India to become a hub for low carbon initiatives that will create jobs, lift people out of poverty, and increase access to education and health services for millions of Indians.”
Mark Kenber said The Climate Group was also working with a number of other business groups to coordinate actions and ensure a cohesive business voice in the run up to the Paris climate treaty negotiations in late 2015: “If we are to create a significant and sustainable decrease in emissions, collaboration between businesses, governments and organizations such as ours is key. Through working together we will drive innovation faster and develop long term, impactful solutions. Clean tech businesses and stocks are consistently outperforming the rest of the economy, and the return on investment for almost every form of renewable energy makes it a hot tip almost regardless of the urgency of tackling climate change.”
The Climate Group currently has around 100 government and business partners. Its government partners represent almost half a billion people. Businesses attending the London event included Coca-Cola, Bank of America Merril Lynch, BT and Philips Lighting.
Richard Kinley, Deputy Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), told the conference: “This moment is our opportunity to create the future we want and need. The Paris agreement needs business and sub-national government to show without doubt that the transition is doable, and the solutions are better than the problem. Clearly Paris needs you, but what is also clear is that you need Paris. We must inspire each other to act, to be bold and ambitious.”
In a message to the event, Ottmar Edenhofer, the economist and co-chair of the IPCC’s Working Group III, said: “Delays in reducing emissions and accelerating investment in clean technologies increase the mitigation challenge. The goal of tripling or quadrupling the share of zero and low carbon energy is achievable if we cooperate across geographical borders. It doesn’t cost the world to save the planet.”
The event also saw Forum for the Future, The Climate Group and WWF-UK launch Net Positive: A new way of doing business – a new report which sets out principles for a ‘Net Positive’ approach to business and how to adopt them. It calls for the ambition of business to change from ‘doing less harm’ to one of having a positive social and environmental impact. The report is available online here.
For further information contact The Climate Group media team:
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