Big business urges action at COP28

Some of the world’s biggest companies have written an open letter to urge delegate at the upcoming COP28 summit to take real steps to phase out the use of fossil fuels.

A total of 131 companies have signed the letter which has been published by the We Mean Business Coalition.

Companies including Volvo Cars, Iberdola, Mahindra Group, JLL, Unilever, Bayer and Nestlé  have used the letter  to call on all parties at the climate conference to lay the groundwork to transform the global energy system towards a full phase-out of unabated fossil fuels and to triple global renewable electricity capacity.

The letter states: “We, the undersigned companies representing $987 billion in global annual revenue, celebrate the exponential growth of solutions that have made clean energy cheaper and more accessible than ever before. However, global emissions continue to rise because we haven’t addressed the primary cause of climate change: the burning of fossil fuels.

“Our businesses are feeling the impacts and cost of increasing extreme weather events resulting from climate change. We recognize the need to transition in a way that safeguards our future collective prosperity on a liveable planet. That means reducing our emissions, adopting clean solutions and reducing our use of fossil fuels to limit global heating in line with the Paris Agreement’s ultimate goal of 1.5°C.”

It continued: “As energy purchasers and users in the global system, we have an important role to play in sending a clear signal about our future energy use, which is rapidly becoming cleaner through renewables. We are taking action and working toward phasing out our use of fossil fuels. That is why we are setting science-based targets, developing climate transition action plans, investing in net-zero solutions and disclosing our progress. Climate action is good for business now and in the future.”

The letter warned to decarbonise the global energy system, we need to ramp up clean energy as fast as we phase out the use and production of fossil fuels. “This means turbocharging the renewables revolution, electrifying key sectors and massively improving efficiency — thereby creating the conditions for a rapid, well-managed and just transition away from fossil fuels”.

The companies said the transition to net zero could boost global GDP by 4% by 2030.

“But we cannot make this transition securely or efficiently alone. Financial institutions, fossil fuel producers and governments all have crucial roles to play,” It added.

As such the letter “urges”:

  • Financial institutions to work collaboratively with us, and with policymakers, to ensure that capital is being allocated to accelerate the clean energy transition — creating a financial system that safeguards future growth and returns for people and planet.
  • Fossil fuel producers to join us in setting science-based, net-zero targets and to develop and publish transition plans on short- and long-term steps to decarbonize business operations, products and services. This includes shifting investments away from fossil fuels and toward clean energy to halve GHG emissions by 2030 and enable a net-zero global energy system by mid-century.
  • Governments to set the enabling conditions, policies, regulations and investments for a just clean energy transition. The decisions made today are critical to protect people and ensure a liveable, healthy and prosperous future. Policy certainty will allow businesses to develop affordable and reliable near-term alternatives to fossil fuels for their operations and supply chains.

“We call on all Parties attending COP28 in Dubai to seek outcomes that will lay the groundwork to transform the global energy system towards a full phase-out of unabated fossil fuels and halve emissions this decade,” it added. “This can be enabled by agreeing to a global target of tripling renewable electricity capacity to at least 11,000 GW and doubling the rate of deployment of energy efficiency by 2030.”

Businesses said they want governments to set targets and timelines for the phase-out of unabated fossil fuels in line with 1.5°C, supported by national plans and policies to ensure a just transition for affected workers and communities. Wealthier countries have the responsibility to be first movers and support other countries in their efforts.

They called for an acceleration of the clean energy transition by committing to reach 100% decarbonised power systems by 2035 in advanced economies, and by 2040 for other countries, at the latest.

Maria Mendiluce, CEO at the We Mena Business Coalition said: “As our open letter states: the decisions made today are critical to protect people and ensure a liveable, healthy and prosperous future. Policy certainty will allow businesses to develop affordable and reliable near-term alternatives to fossil fuels for their operations and supply chains.

“We have no choice but to be bold. Extreme weather is costing billions, and the human impact continues to grow. Every fraction of a degree of global heating matters. And every CO2 molecule matters, whether it comes from coal, oil or gas. We can no longer ignore the root cause of the climate emergency.”

She added: “Business can be the catalyst for change. Today’s letter shows that business is serious about meeting its targets and reaping the benefits of climate action. This must give governments the confidence to set policies aligned with science and the Paris Agreement.

“With bold business and political leadership, we can scale clean energy and end our reliance on fossil fuels.”

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