The Road to Paris: Business leaders call for universal climate agreement

wind-turbine-on-roadExperts agree: The risks from climate change are increasing in frequency and impact, creating challenges for senior leaders across all economic and political sectors. Leading companies are taking action to help address climate change, a threat that could reconfigure supply chains, production processes, and operations, by practicing risk assessment, informed decision making, and organizational innovation.


From Nov. 30 through Dec. 11, France will host and preside over the 21st Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21/CMP11), otherwise known as “Paris 2015”. It will be the largest diplomatic event France has ever hosted, and one of the largest climate conferences ever organized. The goal of this event is to make decisions on the steps to mitigate the effects of climate change and prepare for a future that looks a little different.

Paris 2015 is expected to be a decisive step in the negotiation of the future international post-2020 agreement. For the first time in over 20 years of UN negotiations, this future climate agreement will be universal and legally binding for all major greenhouse gas (GHG) emitters, including both developed and developing countries. Subsequent COPs will finalize the details of the agreement so that it may enter into force from 2020, when the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol ends. 

Since the New York Climate Summit of September 2014, there has been a growing trend toward concrete action by businesses and other non-governmental stakeholders. Companies around the world are taking actions to prepare for the summit, largely due to the implications the meeting will have for the economy and the policies by which companies must abide. It’s also in a company’s best interest to prepare for the future of climate regulation; research detailed in We Mean Business’ The Climate has Changed report indicates that forward-thinking companies are achieving a better financial return on low-carbon investments relative to their peers, with an average rate of return of 27 percent.[1]

Companies can join a growing number of their peers who have taken steps to safeguard their future prosperity by committing to any—or all—of the following initiatives:

  1. Commit to adopt a science-based emissions reductions target.
  2. Commit to having a strategy in place to procure 100 percent of electricity from renewable sources.
  3. Commit to removing commodity-driven deforestation from all supply chains.
  4. Commit to report climate change information in mainstream reports as a fiduciary duty.
  5. Commit to responsible corporate engagement in climate policy.
  6. Commit to put a price on carbon.

In our August 5th webinar, we were joined by our partners at CDP and Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship member companies who have signed the commitment to discuss the importance of action on climate change and the steps listed above.