Business and political leaders convened in London on June 28 and 29 for the second annual Business & Climate Summit, where they called for the ratification of the Paris Climate Agreement without further delay, as well as more collaboration between businesses and governments in order to achieve global policy frameworks conducive to long-term, climate-resilient, low carbon investments.
“Now is the time to make real things happen on the ground. Now is the time to get the job done and move from ambition to action,” said Felipe Calderón, Former President of Mexico and Chair of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, opening the second day of the Summit.
Norway was the first industrialized country, and 18th country overall, to formally ratify the Paris Agreement by depositing its “instrument of ratification” to the United Nations’ (UN’s) climate change Secretariat earlier this month. France signed ratification documents several days prior, but the country’s formal ratification will not be in place until all member states of the European Union (EU) have signed their documents, since they plan to deposit all their formal ratification papers together. At least 55 countries, representing 55 percent of the world’s emissions, must ratify the Agreement for it to come into force (the EU and its current 28 member states together make up 12 percent of global emissions).
With the Summit taking place in London, the United Kingdom’s (UK’s) EU referendum was of particular interest. In her speech, Amber Rudd, a Member of Parliament and the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change in the UK Government, said: “The decision to leave the EU is of historic significance. To be clear, Britain will leave the EU. The decision of the British people was clear. The key challenge now, as the Prime Minister and the Chancellor have stressed, is to work towards a settlement that is in the best interests of Britain.
“As a Government, we are fully committed to delivering the best outcome for the British people – and that includes delivering the secure, affordable, clean energy our families and business need. That commitment has not changed. Climate change has not been downgraded as a threat. It remains one of the most serious long-term risks to our economic and national security.”
Finance was a prominent theme of discussions over the two-day event, with carbon pricing and investments in sustainable infrastructure highlighted as effective tools.
“The first priority, I think, is setting carbon price signals everywhere, at levels that reflect the objectives Parties seek to achieve according to their National policies, or Regional policies, as for example for the EU ETS in Europe,” said Gérard Mestrallet, the Chairman of both Paris EUROPLACE and ENGIE, and the Coordinator of the COP21 Business Dialogue.
The President of COP21, France’s Minister of Environment, Energy and the Sea, Ségolène Royal, said that she aims “to promote a carbon price that is high, stable and coordinated.”
Calderón said that sustainable infrastructure is the most effective way to deliver on the three major priorities of economic growth, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the commitments under the Paris accord. He suggested that by investing 1 percent Global Domestic Product (GDP) in infrastructure, advanced economies will achieve a 1.5 percent increase in GDP in four years, with even greater growth in developing countries. According to The Climate Group, an estimated US$90 trillion needs to be invested globally between now and 2030 to help secure a low carbon, climate resilient economy.
Governments were also urged to translate their ‘Nationally-Determined Contributions’ (NDCs) into investment-grade policy frameworks as soon as possible. The We Mean Business coalition and CDP estimate that if the most ambitious plans under five initiatives – Science-Based Targets, EP100, RE100, Zero Deforestation and the Low Carbon Technology Partnership initiative (LCTPi) – are achieved, business actions will reduce emissions by 3.2-4.2 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year by 2030, compared with current trends. The amount is equivalent to 60 percent of the total emissions cuts pledged by countries’ NDCs under the Paris Agreement, and could be increased with the right policies in place. The findings are detailed in a report released at the beginning of the Summit, entitled The Business End of Climate Change.
“Six months on from Paris we are much closer to being able to implement the terms of COP21 than we were at the start. The barriers to investment are lower, the call to action is louder and there is a clear willingness on the part of business and investors to change their ways and adapt their business models. Investors want to invest in sustainable projects and reduce the carbon footprint of their portfolios,” said Stuart Gulliver, Group CEO of HSBC. “With better standardisation, enhanced disclosure rules and better incentives for issuing green bonds, the COP21 goals can be met, but we must continue to work in unison and at pace with the public sector.”