The 13 companies have expressed their support for US President Barack Obama’s Climate Action Plan to cut six billion tonnes of carbon pollution by 2030 at a White House event hosted by Secretary of State John Kerry.

The businesses have signed up to an American Business Act on Climate Pledge. Together, the companies are voicing strong support for the Paris climate change talks which will be held in December.

The group aims to demonstrate a commitment to climate action, with collective investment of $140bn in low-carbon technologies and plans for more than 1,600MW of renewable energy.

The companies launching the Climate Pledge include Alcoa, Apple, Bank of America, Berkshire Hathaway Energy, Cargill, Coca-Cola, GM, Goldman Sachs, Google, Microsoft, Pepsi-Co, UPS and Walmart.

The firms represent total market capital of around $2.5trn.

Cost of inaction

The pledge by the businesses states: “We recognise that delaying action on climate change will be costly in economic and human terms, while accelerating the transition to a low-carbon economy will produce multiple benefits with regard to sustainable economic growth, public health, resilience to natural disasters and the health of the global environment.”

The announcement includes Bank of America’s pledge to increase its environmental business initiative from $50bn to $125bn by 2025; Berkshire Hathaway Energy investing an additional $15bn in renewable energy generation; and Google’s commitment to tripling its renewable energy purchases and continuing its $2bn investment in clean energy projects.

Last week, The Economist Intelligence Unit published a report suggesting the potential cost of five-degree global warming could cost asset managers and investors $7trn.

Committed partnership

Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan said: “We are putting our financial capital, our intellectual capital and the strength of our partnerships to work to help create a better future for all of us.”

Berkshire Hathaway Energy president and CEO Greg Abel said: “For more than a decade, we have been making significant investments to reduce the impact of our operations on the environment and fostering a more sustainable future by developing renewable energy generation and reducing emissions from our facilities.

“Joining these other U.S. businesses is one more way we can demonstrate our commitment to lead on climate action.”

Low-carbon shift

Further pledges include announcements from food and beverage giants Pepsi-Co and Coca Cola. Pepsi said it would expand the use of sustainable farming practices to 500,000 acres of North America farmland and aim to make all its new refrigeration equipment HFC free by 2020.

Coca-Cola said it planned to make comprehensive changes to its business to reduce carbon emissions by 20m tonnes per year by 2020.

Meanwhile, retail group Walmart said it was planning to drive renewable energy generation up 600% by 2020 from a 2010 baseline.

Green business group We Mean Business has welcomed the announcements. The organisation’s chief executive Nigel Topping said: “The shift to a low-carbon economy is inevitable, irreversible and irresistible. Taking bold climate action is simply good for business.”

The move from businesses comes after Democrat presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton announced she would invest in half a billion new solar panels if she is elected president in 2016.

Matt Field

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