Business giants call on G20 to strengthen climate commitments

Some of the world's largest businesses, including Unilever, Netflix and Volvo, have written to the G20 calling on nations to strengthen climate targets and deliver on climate finance commitments in the build-up to COP26.

Business giants call on G20 to strengthen climate commitments

The letter calls for the immediate end to new coal power development

Through the We Mean Business coalition, hundreds of businesses have written to the G20 calling for heightened climate action.

The businesses involved represent more than £1.8trn in revenue and employ more than 8.5 million people worldwide. The signatories, which include Unilever, Netflix, Volvo Cars, Iberdrola and Natura & Co span sectors from power and transport to fashion and construction.

The letter calls for the immediate end to new coal power development, while financing plans should be introduced to phase out coal-fired power generation by 2030 for developed nations and 2040 for the rest of the world.

It also calls on the G20 to strengthen Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) in line with at least halving global emissions by 2030.

“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,” We Mean Business’s chief executive Maria Mendiluce said.

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

Climate finance

Under the UNFCCC developed nations committed to financing $100bn annually by 2020, however, developed nations have failed to fulfil this commitment, with as little as $70bn provided in recent years. It will be one of the crucial discussion points at COP26 and, if not addressed sufficiently, could lead to the collapse of global negotiations geared at combatting the climate crisis.

Recent research from Oxfam found that wealthy nations are failing to address a finance gap on the long-standing pledge to mobilise $100bn (£72.5bn) annually to help developing nations adapt to the climate crisis, according to new research from Oxfam which found that up to £57bn may not be delivered across a six-year period.

According to Oxfam, this trajectory will see developed nations offer up to £69bn annually by 2025 – five years after the goal should have been met. Oxfam states that developing nations could miss out on up to £57bn over a six-year period as a result.

In response, the businesses are calling on the world’s largest economies to deliver on their existing financial pledges, while also ending fossil fuel subsidies and putting a price on carbon to incentivise green markets.

Code red

The window in which to deliver the “deep emissions cuts” needed to prevent the worst impacts of the climate crisis is closing rapidly, thousands of scientists are warning, meaning that our best chance of delivering the Paris Agreement is to reach “at least net-zero” by 2050.

According to the IPCC’s most recent report, the global temperature increase from pre-industrial times is likely to breach 1.5C – the Paris Agreement’s most ambitious pathway – by 2040. Temperatures have already risen by around 1.1C over the last century or so.

“Many of the changes observed in the climate are unprecedented in thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of years,” the IPCC said in a statement. It added: “This report is a reality check” and a “code red” for humanity.

“Time is running out to keep 1.5 degrees within reach,” Unilever’s chief executive Alan Jope said. “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.”  

Matt Mace

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