Nature and Biodiversity

How a UN climate deal will create jobs and growth

Maxwell Hall
Creative Editorial Lead, World Economic Forum
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The heads of major multinationals from Brazil, China, Europe, India and the United States are urging world leaders to “reach an ambitious climate deal” that they argue will “generate jobs and growth” across the world.

In an open message, CEOs from 78 companies – a cross-sectoral coalition facilitated by the World Economic Forum that includes banking, manufacturing, construction and energy – extend “an open offer” to governments to co-design climate solutions ahead of the UNFCCC’s Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris. The conference will see the leaders of nearly 200 countries meet to finalize a global agreement on climate. “Delaying action is not an option,” they said.

The message has been welcomed by the UN’s top climate official, Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). She said that climate action represents a “massive economic opportunity,” adding: “This is the first intentionally directed industrial revolution and will be the source of good new jobs and strong growth for the coming decades, something developing countries are increasingly realizing and taking the lead on.”

These business chiefs collectively represent $2.13 trillion in revenue, equivalent to India’s GDP. Importantly, many of them lead companies from outside of the OECD group of developed nations and pledge support for developing countries to adapt to a warmer world. A key challenge in climate negotiations is how emerging economies will find investment to shift to greener energy systems and build infrastructure to withstand the floods and heatwaves that scientists say are likely to increase as the climate changes.

The move is part of the ongoing push to deliver a lasting legacy on climate change. The CEOs hope to capitalize on the momentum created by pledges from over 160 countries, notably from the US and China, in recent months to bolster the case that governments have industry support to take decisive action to combat climate change.

As well as pledging support, the CEOs have committed their companies to:

  • Reduce environmental and carbon footprints and collaborate in supply chains
  • Act as ambassadors for climate action, focusing on solutions and economic opportunities
  • Manage climate risks and include them in decision-making, realizing growth opportunities

They advocate:

  • Explicit or implicit carbon pricing, which they believe will “trigger low-carbon investment”
  • Innovation in alternative and renewable energy sources, energy efficiency and an end to deforestation
  • Climate action through greater corporate disclosure of carbon risks and projects such as green bonds

That governments set science-based global and national targets for the reduction of global greenhouse gas emissions and the development of alternative energy sources

The list of signatories includes:

Ulrich Spiesshofer, President and CEO, ABB Ltd
Pierre Nanterme, Chairman and CEO, Accenture
José Manuel Entrecanales Domecq, Chairman and CEO, Acciona SA
Ton Büchner, CEO and Chairman of the Board of Management, Akzo Nobel NV
Philippe Camus, Chairman of the Board and CEO, Alcatel-Lucent SA
Oliver Bäte, Chairman of the Board of Management (CEO), Allianz SE
Gregory Hodkinson, Chairman, Arup Group Ltd
Johan C. Aurik, Managing Partner and Chairman of the Board, A.T. Kearney
Carlos Fadigas, CEO, Braskem
Gavin Patterson, CEO, BT Group Plc
Paulo Roberto de Souza, CEO, Copersucar SA
Niels B. Christiansen, President and CEO, Danfoss A/S
Frank Appel, CEO, Deutsche Post DHL Group
Timotheus Höttges, CEO, Deutsche Telekom AG
Nigel Knowles, Global Co-Chairman, DLA Piper
Henrik Poulsen, CEO, DONG Energy
Francesco Starace, CEO and General Manager, Enel SpA
Gérard Mestrallet, Chairman and CEO, ENGIE
Marcelo Strufaldi Castelli, CEO, Fibria Celulose SA
Bernardo Gradin, CEO, GranBio Investimentos SA
Dong Mingzhu, Chairperson and President of Gree Electric Appliances Inc. of Zhuhai
Kasper Rorsted, CEO, Henkel AG & Co. KGaA
Ajit Gulabchand, Chairman and Managing Director, Hindustan Construction Company Ltd
Stuart Gulliver, Group CEO, HSBC Holdings Plc
Ignacio S. Galán, Chairman and CEO, Iberdrola
Peter Agnefjäll, CEO, IKEA Group
Vishal Sikka, CEO and Managing Director, Infosys
Ralph Hamers, CEO, ING Group
Ravi Uppal, Group Managing Director and CEO, Jindal Steel & Power Ltd
Alex Molinaroli, Chairman, President and CEO, Johnson Controls Inc.
Sajjan Jindal, Chairman and Managing Director, JSW Steel Limited
Fabio Schvartsman, CEO, Klabin SA
Sandra Wu Wen-Hsiu, Chairperson and CEO, Kokusai Kogyo Co. Ltd
Eric Olsen, CEO, LafargeHolcim
Inga Beale, CEO, Lloyd’s
Anand G. Mahindra, Chairman, Mahindra Group
Jonas Prising, CEO, ManpowerGroup
Marc Bolland, CEO, Marks & Spencer Plc
Brad Smith, President and Chief Legal Officer, Microsoft
Nikolaus von Bomhard, Chairman of the Board of Management, Munich Re
Paul Bulcke, CEO, Nestlé
Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO, PepsiCo Inc.
Torben Möger Pedersen, CEO, PensionDanmark
Eric Rondolat, CEO, Philips Lighting
Dennis Nally, Chairman, PricewaterhouseCoopers International
Feike Sijbesma, CEO and Chairman of the Managing Board, Royal DSM NV
Eelco Blok, CEO, Royal KPN NV
Frans van Houten, President and CEO, Royal Philips
Jean-Pascal Tricoire, Chairman and CEO, Schneider Electric SA
Eric Luo, CEO, Shunfeng International Clean Energy Limited
Joe Kaeser, President and CEO, Siemens AG
Franky Oesman Widjaja, Chairman and CEO, Sinar Mas Agribusiness & Food
Zhang Xin (CEO) and Pan Shiyi (Chairman), Co-Founders, SOHO China
Jean-Pierre Clamadieu, Chairman and CEO, Solvay SA
Christian Rynning-Tønnesen, President and CEO, Statkraft AS
Jean-Louis Chaussade, CEO, Suez
Takeshi Niinami, President and CEO, Suntory Holdings Limited
Walter Schalka, CEO, Suzano Pulp and Paper
Tulsi Tanti, Chairman, Suzlon Energy Limited
Michel M. Liès, Group CEO, Swiss Reinsurance Company Ltd
Cyrus P. Mistry, Chairman, Tata Sons Ltd
Michel Giannuzzi, CEO, Tarkett
Donald R. Lindsay, President and CEO, Teck Resources Limited
Hans E. Vestberg, President and CEO, Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson
Andrew N. Liveris, President, Chairman and CEO, The Dow Chemical Company
David W. Kenny, Chairman and CEO, The Weather Company
Masashi Muromachi, Chairman of the Board, Toshiba Corporation
Gao Jifan, Chairman and CEO, Trina Solar
Sergio Ermotti, CEO, UBS Group
Oleg Deripaska, President, UC Rusal
Paul Polman, CEO, Unilever
Antoine Frérot, Chairman and CEO, Veolia
Anders Runevad, Group President and CEO, Vestas Wind Systems A/S
Anthony Pratt, Executive Chairman, Visy Industries
João Carvalho de Miranda, CEO, Votorantim Industrial SA
Vineet Mittal, Co-Founder and Managing Director, Welspun Energy
Kuok Khoon Hong, Chairman and CEO, Wilmar International Limited
T.K. Kurien, CEO, Wipro Limited

Author: Maxwell Hall, Media Lead, Broadcast and Programming, World Economic Forum

Image: Smog shrouds Chile’s capital Santiago, June 22, 2015. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino

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