Business and sub-national governments call for long-term goal in Paris deal

Reading time: 9 minutes
11 December 2015

PARIS: The most powerful businesses and sub-national governments from the US, Europe, China and beyond came to Paris looking for climate ambition and long-term goals – and the draft Agreement delivers.

The long-term goal included in the new draft text will ensure business predictability and technology innovation – and mobilize trillions of dollars of investments for a thriving clean economy.

A new draft text of the agreement was presented yesterday evening, with negotiations likely to continue for a further 24 hours. It includes a long-term goal of greenhouse gas emissions neutrality in the second half of the century as well as a ratchet mechanism starting in 2020.

The draft also includes details on future submissions of national climate plans, so-called INDCS, the first of which were submitted ahead of COP21. The current text asks countries to submit progressively more ambitious INDCs over time.

An ambitious, long-term goal and five-year review mechanism in the final text is essential. These elements will ensure transparency and predictability for non-state actors such as businesses and sub-national governments and enable them to make long-term low carbon decisions.

Mark Kenber, CEO, The Climate Group says: “As Ministers move into the endgame, The Climate Group is calling on countries to peak their GHG emissions as early as possible and set a long-term goal that provides for rapid reductions towards GHG neutrality. This will provide the certainty business and subnational governments need to scale-up low-carbon capital investment and spearhead the transition to a prosperous low carbon economy.

"To do this, we need a long-term goal with three parts: a clear destination, on a time frame which matches science, which operationalizes a collective temperature goal. It matters less what we call it, and more how soon we get to zero."

Non-state actor leadership

Many actors are already leading the way with ambitious climate moves of their own. The Compact of States and Regions for example, a pioneering reporting mechanism for state and regional governments to submit their climate targets, earlier this week announced plans to reduce emissions by 12.4 GtC02e by 2030 – which is greater than China’s current annual output.

In the US in particular, many sub-national governments are spearheading innovative climate policies. From California’s Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. welcoming 43 new signatories to the Under 2 MOU climate agreement bringing the tally to 123 jurisdictions representing more than 720 million people and US$19.9 trillion in combined GDP – the equivalent of more than the US economy – to Washington, Vermont, and New York State, unprecedented action is being seen at the state, regional, city and province level. These governments are demonstrating how creating innovative policy attracts investment and creates jobs in their home state.

Businesses are also committing to ambitious long-term climate goals. Last week it was announced that several new companies had joined RE100, a campaign from The Climate Group in partnership with CDP which supports the world’s most influential companies in their journeys to going 100% renewables.

New joiners include ICT sector leaders Adobe, Microsoft and Google, the latter of which announced an interim target to triple its purchase of renewable energy by 2025. As John WoolardVice President of EnergyGoogle explained in an exclusive interview with The Climate Group's Climate TV: “The cost of doing nothing in terms of risk and climate effects is so dramatic that there’s almost no other viable alternative than a low carbon business model.”

But such commitments require a long-term goal in the deal in order to be scaled up and replicated by the wider private sector, which is what many leading businesses around the world are demanding. “The business community is by now almost unanimous in its ask for Paris. First is to give us a clear long-term target; the words are less important than the clarity and ambition level,” says Peter Bakker, President of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.

Further explaining why companies need such an ambitious goal, Peter Robinson, President and CEO, United States Council for International Business, which is affiliated with the International Chamber of Commerce so represents top businesses from 130 countries around the world, said on Climate TV this week: “We want a very ambitious, clear transparent agreement that will offer predictability to all the players that need to be accounted for including business going forward, and one that will include all major economies of the world.”

It is clear that both sub-national governments and businesses urge all governments to support this new draft text in Paris and will be consistent and ambitions partners in implementing this historic agreement, as further outlined by Sandrine Dixson-Declève, the Director of the University of Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership on Climate TV.

You can watch more of our exclusive video interviews with climate leaders and experts by following the hashtag #ClimateTV on social media.

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