Making Moves: Private Sector’s Role in This Year’s Climate Summit

September 23rd, 2014- First day of the UN Climate Summit and already a lot of commitments have been pledged & a lot of initiatives announced, especially from the private sector. This year was the first time Ban Ki-moon invited individuals from private firms into the talks and it proved successful— the following announcements were made today:

  • Ban Ki-moon revealed new advancements on financingUS$200 billion from public and private sector by the end of 2015 to support climate action, including: A coalition of institutional investors has committed to expediently decarbonize US$100 billion and to measure & disclose carbon footprint of at least US$500 billion in assets under management; Three major pension funds from North America and Europe announced they would accelerate their allocations to low-carbon investments across asset classes up to more than $31 billion by 2020;
  • New York Declaration on Forests: Cutting loss of forests in half by 2020 & ending in 2030— The private sector expressed a strong commitment to this (including palm oil and food companies): 20 global food companies committed to deforestation free sourcing policies of palm oil. List of endorsers of the New York Declaration on Forests can be accessed here. Taken together, the share of palm oil under zero deforestation commitments has potential to reduce 400-450 million tons of CO2 per year by 2020, or 2 billion tons in the period through 2020.
  • Oil & gas industry commitments, with a special emphasis on short lived climate pollutants. Five significant initiatives to address emissions reductions were made and although it is a positive step, we feel more could have been done since this sector is the major contributor of greenhouse gases.
  • International Union of Railways’ Low-Carbon Sustainable Rail Transport Challenge will increase rail use for freight & transport to meet a goal of 50% emission reduction of by 2030, which could result in 75% reduction of carbon dioxide emissions from rail transport by 2050. The Union represents 240 members including major railways of Europe, China, Russia, India and the United States
  • International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the aviation industry also stepped up commitments to achieve their long-term existing global goal to halve net CO2 emissions by 2050 compared to 2005 levels. This includes implementing a global market-based measure for international aviation for 2020 and onward.
  • Partners of the Caring for Climate initiative launched the Business Leadership Criteria on Carbon Pricing in which companies commit to: integrating carbon pricing into long-term strategies and investment decisions, responsible policy advocacy, and communicating progress. 30 companies have already aligned with the Business Leadership Criteria on Carbon Pricing including major oil and gas, utility, consumer goods, chemical and energy companies across the globe.
  • Other companies like Ikea continue along on their path to offset 100% of its energy use with renewable sources by the end of the decade. Ikea also pledged today that all plastic material used in home furnishing products will be 100% renewable or recycled by 2020, saving 700,000 tons of CO2 each year.

We look forward to further positive outcomes from this elevated private sector role at the Climate Summit and this may just be a turning point for addressing climate which does transcend the public-private divide. To echo the People’s Climate March- ‘To change everything, we need everyone.’

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