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Business leaders call for higher ambition from EU as COP25 enters crucial second week

last modified Dec 13, 2019 04:31 PM
9 December 2019 – As the second week COP25 gets underway in Madrid, business leaders from across Europe are urging the EU to drive and deliver higher ambition on the economic and just transition to net zero emissions.

Businesses, including Unilever, IKEA, EDF, ACCIONA, DSM, and Iberdrola, are calling for confirmation by the EU of a net zero target of at least 2050, with an increase to at least 55 per cent emissions reductions by 2030, and the rapid delivery plan needed in place to reach these standards.

Alan Jope, CEO, Unilever said:

“Businesses have a responsibility to take action that will help address climate change, and many of us are already doing so. But we need to accelerate progress. A European strategy to deliver net zero emissions by 2050 is essential to signal the direction and speed of travel that is necessary to achieve the 1.5-degree ambition set out in the Paris Agreement.”

The businesses as part of the European Corporate Leaders Group (CLG Europe) last week urged the EU to increase its present 40 per cent 2030 target to at least 55 per cent, in line with research indicating a substantially higher standard is needed if the aims of the Paris Agreement are to be met.

Martin Porter, Senior Advisor, CLG Europe said:

“Businesses from across the EU economy are standing up at this important COP25 moment to make it plain they know the only viable, sustainable business model is one that delivers sustainable prosperity and climate action. Climate change is already affecting bottom lines - degrading worker health and productivity, disrupting operations and supply chains, and damaging assets.

“Businesses are calling on Europe’s leaders to set out a swift timetable to deliver net zero by 2050 at the latest and a sufficiently robust interim 2030 target, and to deliver the right policies to unlock business investment and innovation.”

As the UNFCCC COP25 opened in Madrid last week, UN Secretary General António Guterres suggested "the point of no return is no longer over the horizon". He said the climate crisis was imminent and political leaders had to respond. New information from the Met Office predicts 2014-2023 will be the hottest decade for 150 years.

This week the European Council is expected to discuss further the EU’s ambition to confirm its 2050 net zero target. With new Commission President Ursula von der Leyen now confirmed in post, announcements are also expected on the European Green Deal and Just Transition Fund.

Jesper Brodin, CEO, Ingka Group, IKEA said:

“The time to act is now. For every part of society to contribute to the Paris Agreement, we need an EU wide long-term strategy to reach climate neutrality by 2050.  The IKEA commitment is to become climate positive by 2030, and we encourage EU Heads of State to implement a clear and coherent vision that enables us as a retailer, and other businesses to contribute with our part.”

Ignacio Galán, Chairman and CEO, Iberdrola said:

“Words need to become actions. We have a clearly defined path towards the reduction of carbon emissions, with the aim of reaching carbon neutrality in 2050. Ambitious policies will encourage others to establish their own pathways, and we stand ready to help.”

José Manuel Entrecanales Domecq, Chairman and CEO, ACCIONA said:

“Never have we had a clearer motive for investing in our planet and such a short time to send clear institutional signals to actions.”

Frank van der Vloed, President, Signify Europe said:

“To stay within the boundaries of the Paris Agreement we need to accelerate efforts to achieve a carbon neutral future. It would be a triple win for Europe and the best legacy we can leave for the future generations. It will also provide social and economic benefits for European citizens, boost job creation and stimulate social cohesion, steering us to a fairer, more inclusive Europe.”

Karl Henrik Sundström, CEO, Stora Enso said:

“A net zero vision by 2050 in line with the Paris Agreement is the most viable way to collectively combat global warming. Ambitious long-term targets encourage investments and innovations that future proof our assets and attract customers. We believe that everything that is made from fossil-based materials today can be made from a tree tomorrow.”

Feike Sijbesma, CEO, DSM said:

“We at Royal DSM are stepping up to transform and future-proof our business by taking bold climate actions. We would urge European governments to do the same by setting foundations for faster low-carbon transition in Europe.”

Peter Simpson, CEO, Anglian Water said:

“We have committed ourselves to even greater reductions and recently the whole of the UK water industry agreed to achieve net zero carbon emissions for the sector by 2030. This experience has convinced us that more ambitious national targets are not only business essential but they are also good for business.”

José Manuel Entrecanales Domecq, Chairman and CEO, ACCIONA said:

“Never have we had a clearer motive for investing in our planet and such a short time to send clear institutional signals to actions.”


Read CLG Europe Director Eliot Whittington's latest blog on COP25 and access our net zero knowledge hub for EU decision-makers.