Business giants call on US to support the Paris Agreement

Despite president-elect Donald Trump's plans to pull out of the Paris Agreement, more than 360 US-based businesses and investors, including Ikea, Unilever, Mars and Nike, have reaffirmed their commitment to supporting the historic deal and the need to accelerate the low-carbon transition.

Iconic businesses such as General Mills, Interface, Patagonia and Virgin are among the companies that have penned a statement to outgoing president Barack Obama, president-elect Donald Trump and a host of US and global leaders. Signatories have warned that a failure to build a low-carbon economy will put “American prosperity at risk”.

“Implementing the Paris Climate Agreement will enable and encourage businesses and investors to turn the billions of dollars in existing low-carbon investments into the trillions of dollars the world needs to bring clean energy prosperity to all,” the statement said. “Failure to build a low-carbon economy puts American prosperity at risk.”

Unveiled at the COP22 climate conference in Marrakesh today (16 November), businesses large and small pledged to play their part – both within and beyond their operations – to limit global temperature rise to the well below two-degrees target established at COP21 last December.

The US has been joined by more than 100 other parties in ratifying the Paris Agreement, which officially entered into force earlier this month. Businesses including, eBay, Tetra Pak and Starbucks have all called on US leaders to continue the implementation of low-carbon promises in order to meet or exceed national commitments.

Businesses are also calling for greater investment opportunities to drive the low-carbon economy – both in the US and abroad – to boost clarity and confidence during the transition. The businesses that signed the statement have called for Trump’s presidential reign to continue participation in the Paris Agreement.

“It is vital that the business community demonstrates its ongoing commitment to tackling climate change,” Mars Incorporated’s chief sustainability and health and wellbeing officer Barry Parkin said.

“This is an important moment in global political and economic history, and we absolutely must come together to solve the immense challenges facing the planet. Climate change, water scarcity and deforestation are serious threats to society. It is imperative that global businesses, like Mars, do their part to face down those threats.”

The statement was overseen by a host of global green groups including Ceres, Environmental Defense Fund, Environmental Entrepreneurs, The B Team, The Climate Group, We Mean Business and World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

Down in the Trumps

President-elect Donald Trump has previously vowed to cancel the Paris Agreement, although it would likely take four years for the US to officially withdraw – having jointly ratified with China back in September.

Delegates in Marrakesh for COP22 have responded defiantly since the news of Trump’s shock triumph broke. While national governments have dismissed the idea of inducing a carbon tax on all American imports if the US does vacate the Agreement, the business sphere continues to push the low-carbon agenda.

For example, more than 150 companies have signed up to Barack Obama’s American Business Act on Climate Pledge, with pledges going as far as to reduce in-house emissions by 50%, purchase 100% renewable energy and achieve zero-deforestation in supply chains.

Matt Mace

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