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Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL)



A building voice: business cranks up call for a bold climate deal

Eliot Whittington

17 April 2015

For those working on climate change, it is often too easy to focus on what hasn’t happened. The size of the challenge is massive; the sense of progress too small.

I know from talking to enlightened business leaders working to unlock action on this subject that many have felt that their voices are too few and too scattered. This year, that needs to change.

The climate negotiations in Paris in December provide a chance to take a major step forward internationally on climate change. For the first time ever, all major emitters seem prepared to be part of a binding agreement to reduce their emissions.

Much needs to be done to ensure this agreement is struck on the best terms possible, and the collective, supportive business voice will be crucial. The week ahead is a big week for that voice.

Today the Financial Times publishes an advertisement highlighting a major new statement from a group of CEO climate leaders supporting a robust climate agreement, co-ordinated by the World Economic Forum. This statement calls on policymakers to deliver an ambitious deal that will put the world on track to future warming of less than two degrees centigrade, and offers clear business support for this goal. It is an important addition to the business groups already speaking out about the need for action on climate change.

The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group (CLG) has long been at the forefront of similar such efforts, and has mobilised more than a thousand companies in support of an ambitious climate agreement through its Communiqués over the last seven years. We strongly welcome the growing support for this cause.

Also this week, the World Bank’s Carbon Price Leadership Coalition (CPLC), of which the CLG is a founding member, will be bringing high-level business support for carbon pricing to the attention of finance ministers, at the Spring Meetings of the World Bank and IMF. We’ll be saying carbon pricing is essential for driving low carbon investment.

A few days later, also in Washington, the US-based group Ceres will be organising key businesses into a lobby of the US Congress, to demonstrate business support for cutting US emissions and a global climate deal. Ceres will be actively supported by the CLG, and other members of We Mean Business.

But of course, this week in April is just the start of it. More and more businesses are committing to a low carbon future and are calling on policymakers to provide equal commitment, by securing an ambitious deal in Paris.

We need as many companies as possible to speak up and get involved. By working together, the business voice is stronger. Expect to hear it increase in volume over the months ahead.

About the author

Eliot Whittington

Eliot leads a body of work to support business and policy action on climate change. He is the Deputy Director of The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group which brings together businesses to work towards a step change in policy and action on climate change.

Eliot has over 15 years’ experience in working to unlock systemic change, including providing policy analysis around climate action for Save the Children and Christian Aid, leading Christian Aid’s UK lobbying work with parliamentarians and political parties, and working on mobilising grassroots campaigning in locations from Addis Ababa to Birmingham.



United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Bonn Climate Change Conference, March 2014

Image courtesy of the UNFCCC, via Flickr


Zoe Kalus, Head of Media  

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