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World-leading sustainability institute adds Corporate Leaders Group Europe to stable of influential business networks as EU citizens’ concern over climate rises sharply

last modified Sep 09, 2019 05:14 PM
10 September 2019 – The University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) will launch its Corporate Leaders Group Europe (CLG Europe) in Brussels, aiming to be the leading pan-European business voice supporting the transition to a net zero economy.

CLG Europe is a new cross-sectoral group of businesses with a presence in Europe, working with EU and global policymakers and peers to support stronger ambition and accelerated action on climate change. The group is made up of major companies, including household names and market leaders, such as EDF, Iberdrola, IKEA and Interface.

A recent Eurobarometer poll indicated climate change, ranked fifth in autumn 2018 in a list of EU citizens top concerns, is now the second most important issue, sending a clear signal to the new Commission and Parliament to accelerate their commitment to a 1.5C future.

The renewal of the EU institutions offers a vital opportunity to set a more ambitious and urgent climate agenda, including agreement on an EU long term strategy on climate neutrality by 2050. The new Commission begins work in early November and is already likely to drive EU climate and environment commitment further faster.

The nominated Commission President has indicated her desire to deliver a European Green Deal in the first 100 days including an EU Climate Law to deliver climate neutrality by 2050 and the potential for the bloc to become a net zero continent. Businesses have a key role to play in both developing new innovations and actions to meet these targets and ensuring policymakers take decisive action now. 

Eliot Whittington, Director, Corporate Leaders Groups, said:

“As more and more voices rightly highlight the urgency and seriousness of the climate challenge, it is critical that business and government come together to respond. A climate neutral economy can be more prosperous, more innovative, cleaner, healthier and more productive than today’s economy, but we need an urgent programme of action and investment to deliver it.

“Business is fundamental to this and can help deliver the innovations required. More and more businesses understand that the bright future they need involves clarity, commitment and ambition in addressing the climate challenge. That is why CLG Europe has come together to provide a clear business led voice supporting ambition, identifying where policymakers and businesses must work together, and positioning European economies in the forefront of the new industries and business models that the world will need.

“Forward thinking businesses want to be part of the sharp end of the debate on climate change, bringing to the table their understanding and experience to better rewire our economic systems for delivery of a safe and just transition to a carbon neutral economy. CLG Europe is committed to that aim, leading by the example of its members.”

Earlier this year, CLG Europe launched its A new agenda for Europe: Business priorities to deliver a prosperous, climate neutral economy policy briefing, outlining a systemic, economy-wide agenda articulated around five priorities for Europe’s new leaders at the start of a period of political flux.

Carine de Boissezon, Chief Sustainability Officer, EDF, said:

"CLG Europe's instrumental leadership in catalysing European businesses towards a commitment to carbon neutrality gives hope for better policies in line with what is needed for Europe to deliver the Paris agreement. EDF strongly supports CLG Europe's initiative as our first Corporate Social Responsibility goal is to go beyond the 2 degrees trajectory by drastically reducing our CO2 emissions and contribute to carbon neutrality in 2050."

Gonzalo Sáenz de Miera, Climate Change Director, Iberdrola said:

“CLG Europe will play a key role to build the necessary alliances to drive transformation towards a net – zero European economy by 2050, allowing EU society to harness the opportunities that will arise from this process.”

Nigel Stansfield, President, Interface, EAAA (Europe, Africa, Australia, Asia) said:

"Climate change continues to be one of the biggest problems facing the world today. Organisations, people and governments have the power to reverse the impact to the planet but we need to act now. Through forums like the new CLG Europe, businesses can work together to drive more ambitious climate policy in Europe. At Interface we have made a pledge to be carbon negative by 2040. We invite industry to join us on our own journey to tackle global warming and create a carbon neutral future."

Jeff Turner, VP Corporate Sustainability, Royal DSM, said:

“Business has an pivotal role to play in accelerating the low-carbon transition in Europe. We at Royal DSM are committed to ambitious climate action and net zero by 2050, and urge European governments to do the same. CLG Europe represents a cross-sectoral business voice of progressive industry leaders ready to support European leaders to deliver on an enhanced and more ambitious action plan to shift to a low-carbon and climate-resilient economy.”

The influential members group, convened by CISL, builds on a decade of work from The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group that helped reshape consensus amongst the UK business community in support of climate action and played a significant role in delivering the world’s first Climate Change Act. CISL has also worked at the heart of Europe for 10 years from its Brussels office.

CLG Europe aims to galvanise rapid implementation of the Paris Agreement and EU agreement for a 2050 net zero target, and its work is aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The group will bring together world-class thought leadership, high-level policy-related convening, and impactful communications and engagement to create an influential voice for business. CLG Europe will positively engage with the urgent and ambitious task of creating a climate neutral, competitive and sustainable European economy and grow confidence in wider global efforts to the same end.

CLG Europe will be presented at an event in Brussels on September 10, with speakers including Dame Polly Courtice, Founder Director of CISL, Mauro Petriccione, European Commission Director General for Climate Action, Pascal Canfin, MEP and Chair of the European Parliament Environment Committee and MEP Niels Fuglsang. The event will also celebrate 30 years of CISL and 10 years of CISL’s work in Europe.

Distinct from The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group in the UK, CLG Europe has a separate EU focus. Both Corporate Leaders Groups share an international workstream.

CLG Europe also works through partnerships to amplify the business voice. It is a founding member of the international We Mean Business coalition and works closely with the EU Green Growth Group of EU climate and environment ministers and supportive Members of the European Parliament. The group also maintains a network of sister groups across the EU.


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