Conversations in Paris at COP21 demonstrate it’s not all negative regarding business cooperation in solving climate change. The bar was set high for this meeting, with “a universal, legally binding agreement” (CCCW, 2016) being the key aim to produce a low-carbon society. COP21 provided a positive outlook, with unprecedented corporate engagement in key issues (UN Global Compact, 2015). Even prior to COP21, 91% of business leaders surveyed by Accenture and the UN Global Compact saw climate change action as an urgent priority (UN Global Compact, 2015). This acknowledgment greatly increases traction for implementing corporate policy for transitioning to a low-carbon economy.
COP21 has put these views into practice with commitments from >5000 global companies that total >$38 trillion in revenue (Hardcastle, 2015). One major development at COP21 was the signing of >114 companies to the ‘Science-Based Targets Initiative‘, involving setting sustainability targets based on contributions to global emissions. This success was down to businesses seeing the initiative as opportunity for innovation and competitive advantage at no additional cost. The CDP states the US corporate sector would generate savings of up to $780 billion by 2020 from these science-based targets (UN Global Compact, 2015), which is crucial in profit-based business engagement.
However, the success of COP21 should not be taken for granted and this progress cannot now be forgotten about and pushed to the back of people’s minds.
UPDATE 10/11/2016: The controversial election of Donald Trump as POTUS has been regarded a “disaster for the planet” (Plumer, 2016). Plans for scrapping decarbonisation regulations, repealing clean energy federal spending, ridding of the EPA and removing the US from the Paris deal (Plumer, 2016) will have major implications on climate change far beyond Trump’s presidency; leaving many, including myself, fearful for the future of the planet.
CCCW. (2016). Climate change commission wales. Retrieved October 21, 2016, from http://www.thecccw.org.uk/resource/what-is-cop21/
Hardcastle, J. L. (2015, December 15). COP21 climate deal: What’s next for business. Retrieved October 21, 2016, from http://www.environmentalleader.com/2015/12/15/cop21-climate-deal-whats-next-for-business/.
Plumer, B. (2016, November 9). There’s no way around it: Donald Trump is going to be a disaster for the planet. Retrieved October 21, 2016, from http://www.vox.com/2016/11/9/13571318/donald-trump-disaster-climate.
UN Global Compact. (2015). Take steps to support the global climate agreement. Retrieved October 21, 2016, from https://www.unglobalcompact.org/take-action/action/cop21-business-action.