Business will lead the charge on climate action in 2016: Johanna Goetzel

Reading time: 8 minutes
18 December 2015

Johanna Goetzel, Head of Member Engagement, North America, The Climate Group, reflects on the success of the global COP21 climate talks in Paris from New York and explains how US-based businesses are poised to lead the way on implementing the emissions reductions pledged in the Paris Agreement over the next five years.

The Climate Group welcomes the historic global climate deal agreed in Paris. Looking forward to 2016, corporate leadership and accountability are essential to drive forward the decisions made during COP21.

In celebrating progress made in Paris, some US-based companies and members of The Climate Group are already focusing on the low carbon corporate agenda ahead.

Financial institutions including The Climate Group member Goldman Sachs, and JP Morgan Chase Bank, Bank of America Corp., Wells Fargo, and Citibank along with Morgan Stanley and have boldly committed to provide “significant resources” to finance climate solutions, demonstrating that decisions made in Paris will impact the markets globally.

Across sectors, corporate leaders are supporting this landmark agreement. Hannah Jones, Chief Sustainability Officer, and VP, Innovation Accelerator at NIKE, Inc. said, "We applaud the adoption of the Paris Agreement. We hope this unprecedented and historic global alignment will not only mitigate the impacts of climate change but also incentivize innovation and support sustainable business growth and development.”

Additionally, in a public facing letter, Dion Weisler, President and CEO of HP, Inc. has already endorsed the key messages of the new Paris agreement: “We believe that our own efforts to reduce energy use and lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions across our technology portfolio, operations, and supply chain are critical to our long-term business sustainability and contribute directly to our customers’ success.”  

During COP-21, a full-page color advertisement ran in section A of the Wall Street Journal which broadcasted US business support for a strong Paris climate agreement. Member companies Dell, HP, Ikea and Nike provided their logos alongside over 65 major brands, helping underscore US leadership in the low carbon ecoomy.

Since its launch in October, 154 companies including The Climate Group members 21st Century Fox, Dell, Goldman Sachs, HP, Nike and Ikea joined the American Business Act on Climate Pledge, demonstrating their support for action on climate. These 154 companies have operations in all 50 states, employ nearly 11 million people, represent more than $4.2 trillion in annual revenue, and have a combined market capitalization of over US$7 trillion.

The impacts of climate are felt profoundly in economic and population health. Speaking at the White House, Alex Gorsky, CEO, Johnson & Johnson, said “First and foremost we really think this issue of the environment and the climate is a healthcare issue" and continued, "We think this is the right thing to do".

With the combined low carbon commitments across the private and financial sectors, trillions of dollars will be unleashed in the development and deployment of clean technologies.

Technological innovation for emissions reduction will drive the future of transport in particular. In her reflections post Paris, Nancy Pfund, Managing Partner of DBL Partners, states that electric cars and efficient transit represent the future, saying that it’s time to “hop on if you want to have a thriving 21st century economy.”

Joining the RE100 campaign during COP21, software giant Microsoft also sees clean technology as key to achieving the goals outlined in the Paris Agreement. Rob Bernard, Chief Environmental Strategist commented: “Advances in technology and innovation will be absolutely critical in moving us forward toward achieving the goals outlined in the agreement. We applaud the work done by so many in Paris, and we look forward to joining together in collaboration to achieve these goals and continue our efforts to create a more sustainable future for everyone.”

Furthering this agenda, Bill Gates launched the multibillion dollar Breakthrough Energy Coalition in Paris, which brings together venture capitalists from 10 countries to invest in new low carbon energy technologies. This fund and the expanding network of RE100 global members, now with 53 global partners, indicates how businesses are vocalizing support for cleaner more stable energy options.

Whether through ramping up investment or steering new technology developments, it is clear that taking the Paris agreement into global boardrooms as well as the halls of civil society will be paramount in advancing a cleaner economy.

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