Business and sub-national governments are showing world leaders how climate action is really done: Ben Ferrari

Reading time: 7 minutes
2 December 2015

Until 2020, when the Paris agreement comes into force, businesses and sub-national governments will be key to bending the emissions curve and putting us on track to a sub-2 degree pathway. Ben Ferrari, Director of Partnerships, The Climate Group outlines why these 'non-state actors' are so important and what they want to see from these historic negotiations.

World leaders join together at the COP21 talks in Paris this fortnight to agree a global climate deal. That deal will take effect in five years time so it is critical that we also focus on action we can take now and recognize what the low carbon leaders around the world are already doing.

In particular, businesses and sub-national governments are steaming ahead with innovative climate actions and ambitious renewable energy targets that are undoubtedly among the most impressive of the commitments showcased in Paris.

Here at The Climate Group, we have worked alongside businesses and governments making substantial steps to lead the global low carbon economy for more than a decade. And the next 10 days offer us a perfect opportunity to highlight their leadership and demonstrate its importance.

Governments in Paris aim to negotiate and deliver a framework for restricting global temperature rise to less than 2?C by 2050. But from what we have witnessed through our network – for example in the climate action plans reported to the Compact of States and Regions – many sub-national governments are already demonstrating the ambition needed to avoid runaway climate change. The Compact’s first disclosure report will be released on December 7, and we look forward to sharing the government’s collective determination to reduce emissions.

Some of the world’s most influential companies are also proving  their crucial role in the global race to decarbonize. Our RE100 campaign in partnership with CDP is a global collaborative initiative of businesses committed to 100% renewable electricity.

Over 40 brands with operations around the world have signed up to RE100 so far, with more expected to be announced at COP21. These low carbon leaders are actively promoting their aims to reduce their GHG emissions by channelling their investments into renewable electricity. And with household names including IKEA, Starbucks and Philips committed to going 100% renewable, we have the opportunity to truly start transforming the global energy market.

IKEA in particular, one of the founding companies of RE100, can boast dramatic renewable energy growth. It has installed over 700,000 solar panels on its buildings globally and purchased wind farms in the US, Canada and Ireland. With these investments and improved energy efficiency initiatives, IKEA has managed to save almost US$70 million in stores and warehouses. This is not only having an impact on its business but also its customers, who increasingly demand and certainly benefit from energy and cost savings delivered by more efficient products’.

Indian IT leader Infosys has already installed 12MW of solar PV, and plans to install 175 MW more, leading to much greater energy security. Goldman Sachs recently announced it was investing US$150 billion in renewables. And just ahead of COP21, Unilever announced bold new climate and energy targets, including a goal to use 100% renewable energy by 2030 and an interim goal of 100% renewable grid electricity by 2020.

With just over week to go until Paris concludes, national governments should be encouraged by the business sector’s example of collaboration and investment in renewables.

Indeed, we are also tracking the confidence of our business and government network in both the COP21 negotiations, and its impact – if any – on their ability to make long-term low carbon decisions through our Climate Barometer, the first results of which were released earlier this week.

Whatever happens in Paris, in the New Year and in the subsequent five years before a global climate deal comes into action, we will be maximizing our support for the sub-national government and business leaders from around the world who must collaborate and innovate to create a wealthier, stronger, low carbon economy.

The Climate Group is proud to be working with these leaders in driving investment in the policy, technology and finance we need to get there.

Join us in the global transition to this inevitable and irresistible future: the only pathway to long-term and sustainable economic growth.

Find out more about the States & Regions Alliance and RE100

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