Countries sign up to urgently address climate change

22 November 2022 by Catherine Harris
blog author

Leaders from more than 50 of the world’s largest corporations signed up to a joint initiative, during COP27, to accelerate climate action.

The Action Declaration on Climate Policy Engagement will ensure global companies use their climate policy engagement to accelerate the climate agenda, rather than stall it.

The landmark agreement launched by US independent media and research B Corp firm Corporate Knights and the Global 100 Council, has so far seen signatories from all G7 countries (except Japan), with China, India and Brazil also signed up. It will unite corporate leaders to improve public-private policy engagement to move to a cleaner economy.

The companies, with almost $900 billion in annual revenue, represent every major industry excluding oil and gas producers. Signatories include Unilever, Ingka Group (IKEA), Commerzbank, Tech Mahindra and Enel.

Ambitious climate policy is required as current targets have the world on a heated pathway of 2.1°C to 2.4°C, falling exceptionally short of meeting the Paris Agreement targets (the legally binding international treaty on climate change) and the renewed commitments under the Glasgow Climate Pact.

Corporate Knights primarily invited companies previously included in its Global 100 Most Sustainable Companies and Best 50 Corporate Citizens in Canada rankings to sign the declaration.

Toby Heaps, CEO and co-founder of Corporate Knights, said: “By uniting forces, we can show governments around the world that they have the support of the private sector and its major trade and industry associations, outsizing and ‘out-voicing’ laggards who have been actively undermining the Paris Agreement.”

The Action Declaration aims to close the ‘say-do’ gap on countries’ emission reductions by supporting climate action aligned with the Paris Agreement when engaging with policymakers and working with their major industry/trade associations to advance such alignment.

It will also monitor and disclose climate policy alignment for their companies and their major industry/trade associations.

Catherine McKenna, chair of the United Nations High-Level Expert Group on the Net-Zero Emissions Commitments of Non-State Entities, said: “There’s a real opportunity and need for governments to advance ambitious climate policy both domestically and internationally, but for that to happen, major trade and industry associations, which are a dominant force guiding government–business engagement, need to be constructive and solutions-oriented, not rooted in resistance, and businesses need to hold them to that.”

Dylan Tanner is executive director at InfluenceMap, the initiative’s data intelligence partner. He said: “Pressure on the entire corporate sector to fully support governments globally in efforts to devise and implement meaningful climate policy is growing – from investors, the media, civil society and, increasingly, from parts of the corporate sector who want and need government policy to realize their climate transition plans.

“The initial signatories of the Action Declaration on Climate Policy Engagement represent climate policy leaders and a hugely important force in the reforming of the many powerful trade groups globally delaying climate action. It is clear others will join as this trend mainstreams.”

Signatories must publicly disclose their policy engagement activities by the end of 2023 but will choose their own disclosure methods, in a bid to share learnings and new practices.
Antonia Gawel, Head of Climate Change, World Economic Forum, said: “COP27 will provide a valuable forum for business leaders to spotlight one of the biggest issues impacting the pace of climate action - lobbying against positive climate policy and regulation.

“Business must lead to actively support much-needed government action and actively speak out against actions that counter progress. The Action Declaration is precisely the kind of united front that governments need to see coming from the private sector.”

Jochen Eickholt, Chief Executive Officer, Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy, said: “Siemens Gamesa strives to become climate positive by 2040. Our company is rising to this challenge, but we cannot do it alone.

“By signing the Action Declaration, we are aligning ourselves not only with the goals of the Paris Agreement, but with a broader community of sustainability leaders who are proving that actions speak louder than words, and greater impact can be achieved together.”

Nigel Topping, UN Climate Change High-Level Champion for COP26, said: “Business giants in the Race to Zero can play a critical role in the success of ambitious climate policies: they can help drive, shape and influence a needed regulatory infrastructure in line with the Paris Agreement, helping national governments to rapidly convert the ambitious groundswell of voluntary momentum into ground rules for the global economy."

Catherine Harris, Director of Sustainable Business – North America, at Acre, said: “This Action Declaration signals a much-needed move by business to hold Industry Associations to account, where some of their most influential members will no longer tolerate the blocking of key climate policies.

“Hopefully this means we’ll also start to see Government Affairs & Sustainability functions truly engaging, collaborating and aligning like never before. 50 signatories is a great start – but hopefully just the beginning of a much more significant movement in the months and years to come”.

COP27 was held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, this month.