Climate Action: Businesses Are Forging Ahead

Jana Schmidt, President & CEO, Ecova

With COP21 and COP22 serving as global launch pads in the fight against climate change, corporations with a global view are taking seriously their role as leaders in climate action by forging ahead with plans to achieve deep emission reductions and to implement strategies to mitigate climate change risks – not only to protect the environment, but to strengthen business resiliency and the global economy.

Taking Stock of Recent Activities

First, I’d like to provide an overview of important recent events:

  • The COP21 Paris Agreement is entered into force: On April 22, 2016, representatives from 175 countries convened at the UN meeting in New York City and signed the Paris Agreement, which officially went into force on November 4, 2016, much earlier than expected. The agreement outlines the collective path forward for national, state and municipal governments around the globe to keep global temperature rise well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
  • COP22 “The COP of Action” convenes in Marrakesh: On November 7, 2016, COP22 attendees arrived in Marrakesh excited and charged with the responsibility of developing implementation plans for the Paris Agreement. Attendees were able to tackle a number of key items, including:
    • a bi-partisan win on creation of a panel tasked with developing strategic guidance on capacity building,
    • tactical steps on how the IPCC will inform the “Global Stocktake” (i.e. the five-yearly review of the impact of countries’ emission reduction actions), and
    • agreement on transfer of the Adaptation Fund from the former Kyoto Protocol to the Paris Agreement.

One of the most encouraging developments of COP22 was the growth in participation of “non-state actors”—in other words, businesses—in side events, such as the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) “Momentum for Change: Climate Neutral Now” panel. Representatives from Microsoft Corporation and Phillips Lighting spoke about their committed efforts to achieve climate neutrality by focusing their actions on deep efficiency gains, investing in renewable technology and setting an internal price on carbon.

  • The World Economic Forum in Davos: The topic of climate change played a much more significant role at this year’s Forum in two major ways. First, nations formerly silent on climate action have stepped up into leadership roles. For example, President Xi Jinping of China opened the forum with strong messaging for maintaining global support of the Paris Agreement and emphasized China’s role in seizing economic opportunity from investment in clean tech. Second, The United Nations (UN) emphasized the role of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in providing a framework for how the private sector can mitigate risk while adapting to the low carbon economy. The UN Secretary-General emphasized the opportunities of SDG adoption for business, citing a recent report that claims that “…the returns on investments that can be generated by the full implementation of the sustainable development goals would mean something in the order of magnitude of $30 billion per year.”

The Corporate Community is Taking Action

Despite the complexities inherent in implementing the Paris Agreement, coupled with market and policy uncertainty, the corporate community remains focused on climate action. Perhaps the most visible expression of this focus on action is through the We Mean Business coalition, comprised internationally of more than 500 companies that are making ambitious commitments on corporate climate engagement, science-based targets, renewable energy, policy engagement, and more.

One of the We Mean Business initiatives is RE100—committing to 100% renewable power. According to the coalition, increased use of renewable electricity is critical to the transition to a low-carbon economy. Businesses can drive the creation of a thriving, global market for renewable power, a game-changer in reducing emissions, by committing to transition 100% of their electricity to renewable sources in the shortest practical timescale.

To date, 87 companies have joined RE100 and publicly committed to renewable power. RE100 is a meaningful way for business to take action today to reduce emissions using existing renewable energy technologies, resulting in positive financial and reputational benefits.

Helping Businesses Measure and Report on Carbon

The UNFCCC’s Climate Neutral Now initiative highlights three steps companies should take to achieve climate neutrality including:

  1. Measuring your carbon footprint,
  2. Reducing emissions as much as possible, and
  3. Offsetting what you cannot reduce with UN certified emission reductions.

Our robust data management capabilities, paired with our expert advising, position Ecova particularly well in the industry to assist our clients in meeting these important UN objectives. Our Data Management & Carbon Management Solutions address the UN’s aim of businesses measuring and reporting on their carbon footprint. For example, Ecova provides Caesars Entertainment the tools and confidence to accurately track, measure and manage its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions using a consistent, proven methodology backed by verifiable data. With Ecova’s support, the hospitality leader was able to achieve the highest possible CDP Climate Change score this past year – a perfect A – and a place on the coveted CDP Climate A-List for developing and reporting its first ever science-based carbon target aligned with the Paris Agreement, and for demonstrating measurable year-over-year emissions reductions.

Likewise, Ecova’s expert capabilities around Renewable & Distributed Energy Solutions offer a direct match to meeting both the UN and RE100 directives for corporations to substantially reduce their emissions. Ecova is poised to help organizations plan and maintain a clear, actionable roadmap to renewable energy and provide consistent support to achieve these goals. Ecova works with businesses of every size in every location to:

  • Identify renewable opportunities
  • Source grid-based renewables
  • Source renewable energy credits and climate offsets
  • Procure distributed energy resources
  • Manage the performance of the renewables and DERs

Ecova is committed to supporting businesses who are taking the lead on climate action. If you’re still trying to make sense of what it all means, I invite you to join our upcoming webinar on Thursday, March 9: Corporate Climate Action: The Business Benefits to Forging Ahead. Register here.

This is a critical and ever-changing topic, so look for additional blog posts over the coming weeks.

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