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World’s top businesses call for bold climate policy at Abu Dhabi summit

Date
07 May 2014
World’s top businesses call for bold climate policy at Abu Dhabi summit

LONDON: Business leaders called for bold climate policy around the world in order to maximize commercial opportunity and minimize risk, at an important climate summit in Abu Dhabi this weekend.

The two-day Abu Dhabi Ascent event took place in the United Arab Emirates capital with the aim of refocusing global climate action and building momentum for the UN Climate Summit in NYC this September, which coincides with our annual Climate Week NYC.

To the international audience of high-level officials, civil society, companies and investors, Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, Minister of State, United Arab Emirates, set the tone for the summit in his keynote speech when he stated: "The climate challenge is, in fact, an opportunity."

Praising the UAE’s climate efforts as an example for other nations to follow, the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon explained how the Abu Dhabi conference will lay the groundwork for September’s Climate Summit, which aims to drive ambition ahead of the climate talks in Paris next year, and "will not be a talk summit, but a solutions summit." But urging policymakers around the world to urgently address the climate challenge well before Paris, he said: “bold climate action will drive lasting prosperity for all of us. The race is on. It's time to lead.”

Those businesses that are already leading the way proudly highlighted their progress throughout the event. In particular, organizations and companies that are part of We Mean Business, a group of business coalitions from around the world - CDP, BSR, WBCSD, The Prince of Wales Corporate Leaders Group, Ceres and The Climate Group - representing over 500 companies, called for bold climate policy that will scale up clean energy and drive low carbon investment and innovation.

Peter Bakker, President of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), stated: "There is a strong business case for action on climate change”, but concluded that the private sector needs to collaborate with policymakers to have the biggest impact: “Business and government needs to work together. And we mean business."

Another leader associated with the coalitions is Paul Polman, CEO, Unilever, who said: "Make no mistake, the undercurrent of business sentiment is overwhelmingly positive. Businesses are starting to understand the cost of inaction exceeds the cost of action. Businesses see the low carbon economy is happening and want to be part of it." Attesting that no business can prosper in a world of runaway climate change and that meeting the challenge is only possible by both sectors working together, Paul Polman suggested that government leaders must provide "clarity, confidence and courage” in order to accelerate “the beginning of the end of the high-carbon era."

Other speakers had similar messages of collaboration and utilizing innovative businesses, with former US Vice President Al Gore stating: “Business is, in many ways, ahead of government.” Similarly former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair suggested governments incentivize the development of clean technologies because: “the best clean technologies are going to be created by the private sector.”

Steve Howard, Chief Sustainability Officer, IKEA, affirmed the world-leading retailer has embedded low carbon innovation deep within its growth strategy: "Sustainability goes right through all of our business plans. Few things in life are certain, but this we know: we will always need energy.” He finished with: “Business is ready. We mean business. We hope you do, too.”

To find out what we and the other business coalitions are working on as part of We Mean Business, follow @WMBtweets on Twitter.

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