Global business leaders demand faster climate action

Leaders of the some of the world’s biggest businesses, including Allianz, Aviva and L&G, have heaped more pressure on the planet’s biggest economies in the run up to COP26 in an open letter which demands they strengthen their current targets to deliver a net zero economy.

With a month to go, 600 business leaders, including four global insurers, have written an open letter appealing to the G20 to collectively agree to strengthen their national climate targets at the pivotal G20 and COP26 talks.

Following the “code red for humanity” warning recently issued by the UN, the businesses, representing over US$2.5 trillion (£1.8 trillion) in revenue and employing more than 8.5 million people worldwide, signed an open letter to the G20 leaders.

The signatories, which include Unilever, Netflix, Volvo Cars, Allianz, Aviva, Folksam, and L&G, span sectors from power and transport to fashion and construction.

The letter, which remains open for companies to sign over the coming month, also calls for scaling up electrification of transport and renewable energy across sectors, including removing barriers to corporate purchasing of 100 per cent renewable electricity to “enable companies to go quicker in their clean energy transition”.

Businesses are urging the world’s biggest economies to deliver on the existing commitment to $100 billion in climate finance annually for developing countries, to end fossil fuel subsidies by 2025 and to put a price on carbon.

“Our businesses recognize the benefits of climate action,” the letter said. “The right policy decisions taken today can drive further investments and spur business decisions in favour of climate solutions across G20 countries.”

In a move which may well put further pressure in the world’s insurers the letter calls for an immediate end to new coal power development and financing with plans for phasing out coal-fired power generation by 2030 for advanced economies, and 2040 for other countries.

“It’s essential that governments take confidence from this letter, the biggest and most ambitious call for policy action from business that we’ve seen, and step up their climate action plans,” said María Mendiluce, CEO of the We Mean Business Coalition, which coordinated the letter.

The We Mean Business Coalition is a group of seven non-profit organizations working to “catalyse business and policy action” to halve emissions by 2030 and accelerate an inclusive transition to a global net-zero economy by 2050.

“Ahead of COP26, countries should renew their national plans and turn them into concrete policies as outlined in this letter,” she added. “Decisive government and business action can trigger a transition of our energy system to help build a resilient, carbon-free future.”

A recent analysis by the Climate Action Tracker found that no G20 country is currently on track to contain global warming to the 1.5ºC target. G20 countries represent approximately 90 per cent of global GDP and almost 80 per cent of global trade and greenhouse gas emissions.

“Time is running out to keep 1.5 degrees within reach,” said Alan Jope, CEO of Unilever. “The private sector is already taking bold action as the business case for resilient, net-zero economies is crystal clear. But we can only get there if governments set ambitious climate goals.

“We urge the G20 leaders to go all-in on the goal of halving global emissions by 2030, with targets, policies and public investment commensurate with the scale of that challenge.  In doing so, they can set the world on course for a new era of sustainable, inclusive and resilient growth, at a time when it has never been more necessary.”

The letter called for public finance to align around a 1.5ºC trajectory by ensuring that existing public climate finance commitments are met. Alongside this were calls for climate-related financial disclosure of risks, opportunities and impacts to be made mandatory for corporations.

Chairman and CEO of Asics, Motoi Oyama said: “We appeal to G20 leaders to seize this pivotal moment to take action that ensures we can collectively halve global emissions by 2030. Business has the potential to bring about rapid change, but we need clear and consistent policies to drive the business investments and decisions that will build stronger, just, and more resilient economies, both for our own business activities across the globe, as well as those of our business partners in other G20 countries. We believe that for people to achieve a sound mind in a sound body, we need a sound earth.”

In a move which may well put further pressure in the world’s insurers the letter calls for an immediate end to new coal power development and financing with plans for phasing out coal-fired power generation by 2030 for advanced economies, and 2040 for other countries.

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