Businesses match governments with bold climate pledges during Climate Week NYC

The level of climate ambition shown from businesses during Climate Week 2016 in New York City (NYC) is continuing to mount, with eight more companies making 100% renewable energy pledges and four firms committing to double the energy productivity of their operations.

Non-profit organisation The Climate Group has welcomed a host of new members for its two major green business campaigns – the RE100 initiative for companies to only source 100% renewable electricity; and EP100 – the scheme which commits businesses to double energy productivity.

These announcements come in what could prove a huge week for global climate action from businesses and policymakers alike, as the Paris Agreement reaches ever-nearer the point of formal ratification.

Business bank Wells Fargo, IT firm Hewlett Packard Enterprise, drinks giant Diageo, cloud computing companies VMWare Inc and Rackspace Inc, clothing retailer VF Corporation, and Norway’s largest financial services provider DNB have all joined the RE100 initiative this week.

“Learning from RE100 experts and other members is going to be critical as we work toward meeting our 2020 sustainability commitments – including our goal of powering 100% of our global operations with renewable electricity by 2017 and transitioning to long-term agreements that directly fund new renewable electricity projects by 2020,” said Wells Fargo’s senior vice president and head of environmental affairs Mary Wenzel.

The announcement marks another positive step for The Climate Group’s Climate Week NYC event, following an opening ceremony on Monday (19 September) which saw Apple and Bank of America both pledge their allegiance to RE100. A total of 12 companies have become RE100 members during Climate Week NYC so far, joining 69 existing members in driving demand for more than 100TWb of renewable electricity.

Net-zero ambitions

Meanwhile, the EP100 scheme has gained four new members: cement producer Dalmia Cement, hospitality and tourism business Mahindra Holiday and Resorts India, global energy efficiency technology provider Danfoss Group, and Chinese LED manufacturer Hongbo Group.

Despite EP100 only being a few months old, the campaign already boasts corporate major sign-ups from across India, China, Europe and the US. Doubling energy productivity by 2030 could save $327bn annually in energy costs and add 1.3 million jobs to the economy, while carbon emissions would be cut by as much as 33%, The Climate Group says.

Speaking of his firm’s EP100 commitment, Dalmia Cement’s Mahendra Singhi said: “Today, our group has one of the lowest carbon footprints in the global cement sector and we will continue to find ways to not only reduce our energy use, but to also further maximise the economic benefit of every unit of energy we consume.”

Acting chief executive of The Climate Group Damian Ryan has welcomed this flurry of commitments to both campaigns. “It is widely acknowledged that we will not succeed in keeping a global temperature rise below 2C without significant corporate leadership on energy – and that is what we are seeing here today,” said Ryan.

“Dozens of world-leading companies joining RE100 and EP100 are showing there’s a clear business case to invest in cleaner, smarter energy pathways that will accelerate the transition to net-zero emissions economies. When it comes to renewables and energy productivity, investors and policymakers must respond to rising corporate demand and ensure that supportive policies are in place.”

The RE100 and EP100 announcements came just before a ceremony at the UN in New York saw 60 countries worth 47.5% of global emissions complete their formal ascension to the Paris Agreement on climate change, with 13 others committing to do so this year.  Ninety-seven countries, including the UK, have now committed to ratify the Paris Agreement this year, representing 67% of emissions – well over the 55% required for the Agreement to become active.

Luke Nicholls & Alex Baldwin

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