skip to content

Corporate Leaders Groups

Business leadership for a climate neutral economy

22 September 2019 – On the eve of the UN Climate Summit businesses are urging the EU to demonstrate leadership in line with its aim of becoming the first climate neutral continent.

The University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership’s (CISL) influential Corporate Leaders Groups (CLGs) will bring together business leaders and investors in New York during the week of the 2019 Climate Action Summit to discuss the need for increased EU ambition and underline actions needed for the bloc’s transition to net zero.

Incoming EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has confirmed ecological transition to be a priority of her tenure, with a climate neutrality law expected to be proposed within her first 100 days alongside more ambitious 2030 emissions reduction targets and major investments plans for green technologies.

The Summit is a critical moment for climate diplomacy. The UN Secretary-General made clear asks: to end new coal by 2020, adopt plans for carbon neutrality by 2050, stop fossil fuel subsidies and deliver enhanced NDCs next year.

The next eighteen months, from the Summit to COP26, will be decisive in the fight against climate change. To maintain a chance of reaching the Paris objectives, the EU needs to agree on a new 2030 target and transition to a net zero economy by 2050.With over 90% of EU citizens seeing climate change as a serious problem and unprecedented mobilisation around climate and biodiversity issues, now is the time for national leaders to step up. 

Eliot Whittington, Director, Corporate Leaders Groups said:

"Businesses from across the EU economy have made it plain that they know the only viable, sustainable business model is one that delivers sustainable prosperity and climate action. Incoming Commission President von der Leyen has signalled she is moving climate change to the highest political priority, describing protection of the planet and environment as the defining task of our generation. Now we need to see the EU walk its talk - this welcome level of determination needs to be communicated at the UN Climate Summit in order to help frame and direct what happens from here.

“The next five years will be decisive in establishing the investment, infrastructure and innovations needed for a decarbonised Europe and for securing competitive edge in the emerging global clean economy. President von der Leyen’s ambition to deliver the first net zero emissions continent by 2050 must be accompanied by the level of leadership that can set out a swift timetable of delivery, as well as the right policies to unlock business progress. In this way Europe can truly aspire to be a climate neutral prototype for the world.”

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.

Werner Hoyer, President, European Investment Bank, said: 

"As the European Union’s financial arm, and its Climate Bank, we are in New York to present our new ambition for climate action  - delivering on the EU’s vision and the climate leadership  already articulated by President elect Ursula von der Leyen. The world is heading in the right direction, but it is behind schedule. Multilateral financial institutions, like the EIB, have never been more relevant to mobilise private investment for this fight through innovating and partnering with other financial actors to mobilize the private finance necessary to address the climate change and environmental crises."

Carlos Sallé, Vice-President of Energy Policies and Climate Change, Iberdrola said:

“Twenty years ago we were first movers, and we have shown that ambitious action within the green economy is not only good for the planet and citizens, but also for shareholders. Decarbonisation not only benefits the environment, it also helps the economy to grow and creates sustainable jobs. Ambitious NDCs, that consider vulnerable groups, will benefit the countries who adopt them, and there will be sustainable companies to support them in fulfilling their commitments.”

Jesper Brodin, CEO Ingka Group, said:

"Ingka Group, owning IKEA retail in 30 countries (responsible for 90% of IKEA sales) invested directly 2.5 billion EUR in 1.7 GW renewable energy generation, and has just announced it will generate as much renewable energy as they consume in 2020 with 1.7 GW of installed power. IKEA is committed to strive for 100% renewable energy use across its value chain by 2030, as part of the IKEA Climate Positive journey." 

Eric Rondolat, CEO, Signify said:

“We’re very committed to creating a more sustainable world and are well on track to become carbon neutral in 2020. To preserve the planet for generations to come, governments worldwide need to help realize a carbon neutral world by 2050 at the latest and we are calling on companies to commit to a more ambitious target of 2030.”

Learn about the Corporate Leaders Groups' engagement with policymakers, and access the latest thought leadership on achieving a net zero emissions future via the climate change knowledge hub.