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Corporate Leaders Groups

Business leadership for a climate neutral economy

1 December 2016 – The 22nd Conference of the Parties (COP22) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) took place in Marrakesh, Morocco, in November.

COP22 marked the first meeting of Parties to the Paris Agreement following its entry into force on 4 November 2016. Much of the detail of how the Paris Agreement will be achieved is yet to be decided but negotiations in Marrakech agreed a deadline of 2018 to finalise the ‘rulebook’ for implementation.

A number of significant initiatives were also launched during the COP. Countries attending the COP adopted the Marrakech Action Proclamation which reaffirms global commitment to the goals of the Paris Agreement despite political uncertainties and highlights that momentum for climate action is now ‘irreversible’. The Proclamation also calls on non-state actors to collaborate ‘for immediate and ambitious action and mobilization’. The Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action, launched during the COP, provides an official UNFCCC led way for additional actions undertaken by actors such as business, cities, and civil society to be showcased, tracked, and assessed. The Partnership also outlines a collaboration process between governments and non-Party stakeholders to determine key priorities, proposals and actions following each COP. In a similar vein, the 2050 Pathways Platform was also launched during COP. The platform is intended to provide a capacity building and problem solving space for countries and non-Party stakeholders seeking to develop long-term deep decarbonisation strategies.

The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group (CLG) and the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL), in partnership with the We Mean Business Coalition, ran a series of events at COP22 to continue to highlight the actions being undertaken by business to reduce the impacts of climate change. These events focused on central themes of enhanced collaboration, policy engagement, and innovation. A summary of these events can be found below.

Global Climate Action Agenda Business and Industry Day

The Global Climate Action Agenda Business and Industry Day, held during the opening days of the COP, bought together representatives from the private and public sectors to showcase corporate action and discuss how it can be rapidly scaled up ahead of 2020. The day featured a keynote speech from Jill Duggan, Director of the CLG. It highlighted the progress that private sector initiatives have made since COP21 and policy measures that are needed to increase and accelerate private sector action.

UNFCCC side event on ‘Scaling of innovative solutions for mitigation & adaptation’.

Similar themes were discussed during an official UNFCCC side event on ‘Scaling of innovative solutions for mitigation & adaptation’. This event, chaired by Eliot Whittington, Deputy Director of the CLG, was co-hosted by CISL, SNV Netherlands Development Organisation and the Government of Cameroon and featured contributions from government, business, and NGOs. Panellists included Nicolas Gomez, MTN Benin, Diane Holdorf, Kellog Company, Njayou Mama Moustapha, WWF-Cameroon, Harry Verhaar, Philips Lighting and a CLG member, Andy Wehkamp, SNV. The discussion explored the alliance between business and technology and how innovative approaches in this context can help scale up mitigation and adaptation efforts in low-income regions. Two specific examples from Africa were presented with audience members learning about Payment for Environmental Services to alleviate poverty and using mobile technologies for Pay-as-you-go solar lamps. You can watch a recording of this event here.

Driving Innovation across the EU

Conversations around policy engagement and public-private collaboration were continued by a panel event on ‘Driving Innovation across the EU: Lessons learned in how to make the low carbon transition affordable, accessible and prosperous’. The event featured a large panel of prominent government, business, and expert representatives from across the EU including representatives from the Norweign, German and Spanish Environment agencies, 3M, EDF, ad Ferrovial (members of the CLG), and the Carbon Trust and European Commission. The discussion, chaired by Jill Duggan, Director of the CLG, highlighted the leading role Europe in putting forward ambitious climate action policy. With ambitious targets for 2050 Europe is well placed to continue to demonstrate leadership for the transition to a zero carbon, resilient economy. This event provided panellists and audience members the occasion to reflect on the lessons learned in the EU and discuss how to facilitate an economic transformation through policy and technology innovation and targeted regulation and investment, with transport and cities emerging as key focus areas.

High-level dinner: Network of Green Growth Platforms

Looking to further build on the themes of enhanced public-private collaboration and policy engagement the EU Green Growth Platform (EU GGP), in partnership with CISL and the CLG, and hosted by the Swedish Ministry for International Development Cooperation and Climate held a private dinner event focused on Green Growth.  The dinner bought together representatives of green growth focused platforms from around the world and informally explored the potential of, and appetite for, developing a global network of green growth platforms. Such a network could enhance international coordination and collaboration and serve as a knowledge sharing platform as countries and regions individually pursue green growth paths. Discussions at the dinner were positive and ongoing and as such the EU GGP, CISL, and the CLG intend to make such a dinner a regular feature of future COPs.

Press conference

Finally, members of CISL and the CLG held a press conference to mark the launch of a new policy briefing on 2050 long-term plans. The press conference convened subnational, business, and expert leaders to discuss how long-term national plans with a 2050 horizon are a necessary complement to the more short-term National Determined Contributions. As governments start elaborating their long-term climate strategies it is important to set out some key thinking about how such plans should be developed to be effective and to secure the best engagement from the private sector. The policy briefing released by the CLG, titled ‘Future Proofing: Sustainable plans for prosperous economies’, provides an overview of the complementary relationship that can exist between government and business in long-term policy creation and implementation and outlines key characteristics of business friendly long-term plans.