Christiana Figueres, John Kerry and Laurent Fabius join the business community’s optimism for COP21

Reading time: 5 minutes
22 May 2015

PARIS: Distinguished guests such as Christiana Figueres, Laurent Fabius and John Kerry backed the call for action that came from business and corporate leaders on the closing day of the Business & Climate Summit, the cornerstone event of Climate Week Paris which is convened by The Climate Group.

What emerged from the overall discussion of the week is a positive attitude towards the global climate deal that is expected in December, alongside a clear willingness of the business community to turn the policies into action post COP21.

Laurent Fabius, French Minister of Foreign Affairs, stressed the reasons behind this optimism: “Why should the COP21 be more successful than the previous ones? Because there is a different situation. First of all global warming has increased, so it is more urgent than ever before. Secondly, we need to thank scientists who make things easier, as we do not have to keep discussing any more whether there even is such thing as climate change. Technologies, financing and policies have changed. Think about the agreement between the US and China: it would have been unpredictable years ago.”

The French Minister also highlighted his hope for a wider involvement of stakeholders in the business community. “My wish is that more businesses will join this kind of coordination structures. Let’s use this conference to convince more businesses.”

To achieve this, he said, there has to be transparency. “Businesses will have the possibility to publish their contributions on the NAZCA platform [the Non-state Actor Zone for Climate Action digital tool, developed by the UN with the governments of France and Peru] which we will collect before COP21”.

Presenting the portal, Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary, UNFCCC, welcomed the imminent global low carbon transition: "With or without the COP21, the transformation, at this point, is irreversible".

Witnessing the tangible benefits of tackling climate change will be crucial to convince more corporate leaders to join the movement. The US Secretary of State John Kerry sent a recorded video-message, in which he called for joint global action on the climate challenge "as the international community did seven decades ago with World War II".

“We need you to recognize that taking action is in your interest”, he stated. “You don’t have to be a scientist to understand the consequences of inaction, we see the consequences now in the natural catastrophes. If we fail to act, we will face a multiplication of crisis and international security.” 

John Kerry applauded the businesses that are aready acting on climate and investing in low carbon energy, using the example of companies that have joined RE100, a project of The Climate Group and CDP that supports companies to go 100% renewable.

Liu Zhenya, State Grid Corporation of China also spoke at the event, where he stressed the power of solar, wind and hydro, stating controversially that they will "gradually dominate the energy mix".

A price on carbon

Also closing the two-day Business & Climate Summit was a discussion on carbon pricing, a topic which has been identified as one of the key solutions for a global transition to the low carbon economy.

The debate spotted the main challenges that policymakers will have to face. Panelists also questioned which is a better solution: a carbon price or carbon tax? According to Rachel Kyte, Vice President of World Bank and Jean-Pierre Clamadieu, CEO, Solvay, the first seems to be the most balanced solution.

The ideal scenario would involve a starting point with different national prices, as to accommodate the needs of the various countries to slowly become homogenous and internationally regulated.

“The business community is saying that what we need is predictability”, said Rachel Kyte. “We need a price on carbon that actually starts to drive down emissions, that is stable and predictable. And this can be achieved.

“You say that carbon pricing is a political suicide, but we are seeing country after country, province after province doing it. What’s happening now is that countries all over the world are looking at different ways to grow in the least carbon intensive way, according to their needs. Everyone is watching what the others are doing and how they are achieving their results.”

Antoine Frerot, CEO, Veolia, supported the data that has emerged from a live survey done among business leaders at the summit. “The ideal price for carbon would be around 30-40 euros per ton”, he said. This would represent a big step forward, as the current average price in the European Trading Scheme is 7 euros per ton.

Climate Week Paris will continue on Friday 22 with Climate Finance Day. Follow #CWParis for live updates.


By Denise Puca

Climate Week Paris, which is convened by The Climate Group, takes place from May 18-24, 2015. See the full calendar of events by visiting

Facebook icon
Twitter icon
LinkedIn icon
e-mail icon
Google icon