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CLG activities at UN Secretary General's Climate Summit, New York, 21–23 September

last modified Oct 05, 2015 12:03 PM
21–23 September – The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group (CLG) was actively involved in the UN Secretary General’s Climate Summit, and related activities, during Climate Week in New York recently. A significant number of world leaders attended the summit, including more than 100 Heads of State and Government. They were joined by more than 800 leaders from business, finance and civil society.


The summit was not a negotiating session and was organised to support the political momentum behind international agreement on climate change, rather than deliver a negotiated outcome. It successfully provided an international focal point to prompt the development of new initiatives and activities. The UN Secretary General has released a report summarising key announcements made as part of the summit.  

In the run up to the official summit there was a strong presence of additional activities including the New Climate Economy report, the NGO-organised “People’s Climate March” and the “Climate Week” discussions.

The summit successfully created a stronger sense of international progress towards the COP 21 summit, scheduled to take place in Paris at the end of 2015, where a new global agreement on climate change is due to be struck. However it is worth noting that there was little concrete progress towards the conditions needed to agree a global agreement on climate change: government finance pledges fell short of the UN’s target, and no significant new emissions reductions pledges were advanced. CLG representatives attended the summit, and the CLG also convened three important side events. 

I. Carbon Pricing Breakfast and Leadership Club

A breakfast meeting, jointly hosted by the World Bank, World Economic Forum and the We Mean Business coalition (of which the CLG is an active partner), was held for business leaders to discuss strategies around Carbon Pricing. Over 70 countries and more than 1,000 global businesses and other organisations have now committed support to a World Bank-led initiative to accelerate carbon pricing activities. As a longstanding leadership voice on this issue, the CLG has worked closely with the World Bank on this project. In particular, The Carbon Price Communiqué published by the CLG in 2012 provided the template for the World Bank’s Statement and the source of much of its strongest business support. 

As a follow-up to the statement, the World Bank President Jim Yong Kim launched The Carbon Pricing Leadership Club, which will be facilitated by the World Bank Group, together with key partners, including the CLG. The Club will pursue four pillars of activity:

(1) To build from the Partnership for Market Readiness and other initiatives to create an inclusive group of government and business leaders that drives action on the carbon pricing agenda. 
(2) Convene a high-level dialogue that brings together government and business leaders in a series of focused events through to October 2015; 
(3) Promote government–business collaboration and action to accelerate carbon pricing in targeted regions; and 
(4) Make action-focused policy recommendations on carbon pricing via a high-profile global website and communications campaign in September–October 2014.

II. Net Zero Buildings & Trillion Tonne Communiqué Launch

Track Zero

The latest business statement on climate change, The Trillion Tonne Communiqué, launched by the CLG earlier this year, has created a new benchmark for international leadership that other groups are quickly rallying behind. The Communiqué brings business voices together around the need for a transformation of the energy system and a global ‘net zero’ emissions target. Flowing from this, the CLG is facilitating a series of private conversations around the implications of decarbonisation for the fossil fuel industry and energy intensive sectors with key industry players. 

At the Summit, the CLG, and member company Skanska, invited distinguished guests such as Christiana Figueres, UNFCCC, Rachel Kyte, World Bank, Tony de Blume, Foreign Minister, Marshall Islands, Amory Lovins, Rocky Mountain Institute and George Ferguson, Mayor, The City of Bristol, UK to the Empire State Building for a conversation on the implications of net zero emissions for city design. In addition to thoughtful presentations and conversation, the event caught the enthusiasm and buoyant nature of the week as seen in this video summarising the event:

III. Climate Summit Breakfast debrief

The Corporate Leaders Group was also able to take advantage of its credibility and network to host an exclusive, high-level event, allowing senior representatives from business and government to debrief each other on the summit’s proceedings. Participants reflected on the summit’s outcomes and necessary steps for agreement in Paris. They agreed that the summit successfully brought forward new and noteworthy commitments from business and governments, but that the momentum must now be built on concrete action and delivery. The participants agreed that important outcomes of the Summit included:

• The carbon pricing statement and the new launch of the Carbon Pricing Leadership Club; 
• Increasing commitment to reach net zero emissions by the second half of the century; 
• Doubling the rate of global energy efficiency by 2030
• European Union countries committed to a target of reducing emissions to 40% below 1990 levels by 2030. The CLG has been behind business leadership on a call for at least 40% as has the UK government and our joint work through the Green Growth Platform; 
• Divesting $50 billion from fossil fuel investments within the next three–five years and reinvest in new energy sources (new coalition of more than 160 institutions and local Governments and more than 500 individuals). HRH will host a further discussion on this subject in early 2015. 

We are pleased to note that the Corporate Leaders Group have been involved in many of these commitments.

Other key initiatives that the CLG team worked on

The Prince of Wales’s Video Address

A video address was produced by HRH The Prince of Wales and Clarence House, to be aired during UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon’s Climate Summit. The video profiled the work of the CLG and was well received, gaining wide coverage including in the Daily Telegraph, thanks to joint efforts by CISL’s media team. In case you missed it, you can view the video on our website in the right-hand side column of this page.

Climate Summit Bilaterals

Several informal bilateral meetings were held with decision-makers and the CLG’s Director Sandrine Dixson-Declève during Climate Week. Meetings were around EU policy commitments, organisation of the next climate summit (COP 20) in Lima in December, and continued support for UN initiatives and behind-the-scene negotiations to ensure a positive outcome in Paris 2015. 

Bilaterals were held with a number of key decision-makers including José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres, the UN Secretary General’s office and a number of ministers and officials from across Europe. 

All of the bilateral meetings confirmed the importance of the CLG in promoting the progressive business voice and catalysing strategic partnerships for change. The discussions with the European decision-makers focused on the passage of the 2030 climate and energy package and links to energy security policy. As you are aware, the CLG has been playing a key role at the EU level in ensuring that an ambitious 2030 package and low carbon energy union is adopted at the October EU Council meeting of Heads of Government.

New Climate Economy Business Briefing

The UN Summit also provided an important opportunity to promote the CLG’s New Climate Economy (NCE) business briefing and infographic. The CLG was recognised as doing an excellent job of translating the economic messages of the report into concrete business impact and many governments and business have asked for a follow-up discussion as to what this means in European terms.

As a follow-up to this work, the UN Secretary General and his team are keen to engage with us when he visits Europe for the IPCC synthesis report release in November and would like to further discussions around green growth and the low carbon economy narrative.


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