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As we saw from the first part of this feature, climate change is an issue for ALL businesses and, as Unilever’s Paul Polman bluntly put it, “we ALL have to act”. 

The UN climate summit kicks off in Paris on 30 November, with world leaders calling on delegates to deliver an ambitious global agreement to limit global warming to two degrees.

But what does the business community think of all this? 

Here, we round the thoughts of 21 leaders who each, in their own way, play an important role in the outcome and aftermath of COP21. Read part one (1-10) here.

11) Kevin Rabinovitch, global director of sustainability, Mars

“We have provided a strong voice on the need for clear targets to reduce global emissions – as a business, we have invested a lot of time in this area.

“At Mars, we’re considering a carbon price – if you think a carbon price is coming, and all indications are that is the case, then deploying an internal price now can help get your business ready to make these very important decisions.

“Put a price on carbon and bend the economic landscape and drive people where we want to go. It’s a very common practice in business – do your accounting in ways that drives the outcomes you want.

“In terms of specific policies for governments to enact in support of emissions targets targets, that’s the role of the policymakers, but I’m hopeful that they’ll achieve a positive agreement.” 

12) Stephen Farrant, director, environment & market solutions, Business in the Community 

13) Joanna Yarrow, head of sustainability, IKEA

14) Michael Dickstein, director, global sustainable development, HEINEKEN

“There are two major hopes that we have for COP21. First of all, this is a very comprehensive setting, with many different member states with many different interests. So bringing them all together for one single agreement will be a challenge and we truly hope that all of the member states will work together to achieve a solid outcome.

“Secondly, I would say everyone needs to walk the talk. When you take a look at leading businesses, like HEINEKEN, we have set out our sustainability strategy; promised to reduce carbon emissions from breweries by 40%. This is the kind of example that we would like to see from other businesses, from individuals and from member states.

“The real work starts when COP21 has found the resolution, and working on that on a day-to-day basis, making sure its isn’t something written on paper, but something that is put into practice.”

15) Marcela Navarro, chief executive & founder, Business.Cubed

16) Richard Gillies, group sustainability director, Kingfisher 

17) Nigel Stansfield, chief innovation officer, Interface

“My biggest hope is that we reach some kind of formally, legally-binding agreement – that’s the minimum criteria. There’s another thing, though, that I think is important in Paris. And that’s about level of ambition.

“When I look at COP21 goals, and I read about what’s happened previously in Copenhagen, and Kyoto, we never seem to get alignment, we never seems to get hard and fast targets that people abide by and are held accountable to.

“In business, when you say you’re’ going to do something, the business holds you accountable for that and it would be really cool if we could hold the countries accountable to the INDCs they’ve set.

“If I sound a little skeptical, it’s because, frankly, I am.” 

18) Trevor Hutchings, director, UK & EU Advocacy, WWF

19) David Cornish, global sustainability manager, AkzoNobel

20) Charlotte Wolff-Bye, vice-president of sustainability, Statoil

“Climate change is a mammoth, colossal problem that we face and it will touch every industry.

“We need incentives to change how we produce energy and the ‘polluter-pays’ principle is the best way to do that.

“We are not representatives in the Paris process, but a price on carbon would be the most efficient way of driving investment into low-carbon technologies, in our view.

“There needs to be other things of course, such as investment into R&D and innovation, but a price on carbon has worked for us and that’s why we are strong proponent for it. The market will always sort itself out.”

21) Chris Harrop, chairman, UN Global Compact UK Network 

Luke Nicholls

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