Global business leaders from some of the world’s largest companies under the group ‘B Team’ called on governments and businesses to commit to bold action at this year’s UN climate negotiations in Paris.
The leaders include India’s Ratan Tata, Ariana Huffington, Sir Richard Branson, Unilever CEO Paul Polman, also the B Team leader, all of whom have set their sights on a global goal of net-zero greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions by 2050.
The letter issued on February 5, comes before discussions begin in Geneva this Sunday on fine-tuning the Lima draft text. The B Team said, “As you enter into a critical week of discussions in Geneva, we ask that you communicate this goal to the government representatives who will be negotiating on behalf of the citizens of the world, and that you make every effort to ensure this goal becomes the foundation upon which countries build the text of the final agreement.”
The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment said that achieving net-zero GHG emissions by 2100 will provide only a 66 per cent chance of limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius. The B Team said a 1-in-3 chance of failure is unacceptable, given the potential for catastrophic climate impacts. Acting decisively and immediately, with a clear target of net-zero GHG emissions by 2050, is the only way we can lower this risk and avoid ballooning costs, the B Team pointed out.
The business leaders called on governments to commit to a global goal of net-zero greenhouse-gas emissions by 2050, and to embed this in the agreement to be signed in Paris. It urged businesses to match this ambition by committing to long-term targets and driving low-carbon solutions to scale – thereby enabling the world to achieve the net-zero 2050 target.
It also asked for both businesses and governments to adopt meaningful and effective carbon pricing and for governments to end all fossil fuel subsidies, and to shift this capital to help scale affordable renewable energy solutions to enable wider economic transformation.
Businesses and governments should ensure the benefits of responses to climate change flows to vulnerable and impoverished communities that suffer disproportionately from climate change and are least equipped to cope with its impacts, the statement added.
The signatories are Sir Richard Branson, Arianna Huffington, Dr. Mo Ibrahim, Guilherme Leal, Strive Masiyiwa, Blake Mycoskie, François-Henri Pinault, Paul Polman, Ratan Tata, Zhang Yue, Professor Muhammad Yunus and Jochen Zeitz along with Mary Robinson and Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland as Honorary Leaders of The B Team.
These global leaders have also written an appeal to Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC.
Mr. Polman in the statement said, “A target of net-zero emissions by 2050 is not only desirable but necessary. This is the time to redouble our efforts and further accelerate progress to decarbonize our economy. This is not going to be easy, but the earlier we act, the greater the economic opportunities will be.”
Mary Robinson, UN Special Envoy on Climate Change and President of the Mary Robinson Foundation for Climate Justice, explained that a transition to net-zero will succeed only if it is done fairly. The necessary technology for sustainable development must be an available and affordable option for all countries.