Major Industries Call for Action at Climate Summit

As the time draws near for December’s pivotal UN Climate Summit (COP21), we’re not only seeing pledges from countries, but from the world’s major industries.

Over the past week, pledges and calls for action have been submitted from the airline, food, banking, and power industries.

Climate Summit COP21 2015

Airline Industry

In an open letter to world governments, the industry reaffirms its commitment to reduce "aviation’s contribution to climate change."

28 companies, including Boeing, Airbus and Rolls-Royce, signed the letter, committing to stabilize emissions starting in 2020 and cut them 50% by 2050 from 2005 levels. The goal is to increase  fuel efficiency 1.5% a year and are "fully committed" to launching an international cap-and-trade program in 2020

Signatories represent more than 90% of the world’s airlines.

Much of the letter talks about what the industry has done so far:

  • Over $1 trillion spent on more efficient aircraft since 2009, while fostering the emergence of viable biofuels. Together, manufactures are spending about $15 billion a year on research and development to deliver long term efficiency gains. 
  • Countless measures to make operations more efficient, such as flexible routing, flying the shortest wind-adjusted routes; "lightweighting" cabin equipment; maximising load factors, and more efficient landing and take-off procedures.

They call on governments for supportive policies, such as air traffic management investment and reform, such as  performance-based navigation that can cut emissions and noise, and research on biofuels, fuel cells and other technologies.

Read our article, Airports Launch Carbon Certification System.

Food Industry

10 of the world’s largest food companies, including General Mills, Unilever, Kellogg and Nestle, published an open letter in Financial Times and Washington Post urging world governments to support a global climate agreement that "meaningfully addresses the reality of climate change."

"The challenge presented by climate change will require all of us – government, civil society and business – to do more with less. For companies like ours, that means producing more food on less land using fewer natural resources. If we don’t take action now, we risk not only today’s livelihoods, but those of future generations," it says.

They commit to:

  • Re-energize companies’ continued efforts to ensure more sustainable supply chains;
  • Talk transparently about their efforts and share best practices;
  • Use their voices to advocate for governments to set clear, achievable, measurable and enforceable science-based climate targets.

Read our article, Big Food Backs Move Toward Sustainable Agriculture.

Banking Industry

Six US banks – Bank of America, Citi, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo – issued a joint statement.

"As major financial institutions, working with clients and customers around the globe, we have the business opportunity to build a more sustainable, low-carbon economy." 

But while they are committing significant financing resources toward this goal, "clear, stable and long-term policy frameworks are needed to accelerate and further scale investments."

"Policy frameworks that recognize the costs of carbon are among many important instruments needed to provide greater market certainty, accelerate investment, drive innovation in low carbon energy, and create jobs. Over the next 15 years, an estimated $90 trillion will need to be invested in urban infrastructure and energy. The right policy frameworks can help unlock the incremental public and private capital needed to ensure this infrastructure is sustainable and resilient.

While we may compete in the marketplace, we are aligned on the importance of policies to address the climate challenge."

Separately, Citi announced that as part of its updated environmental and social policy, it is reducing its "global credit exposure to coal mining companies." Bank of America announced a similar policy in May.

Both come after years of pressure from environmental groups and this summer’s launch of the Paris Pledge – 130 organizations urging the industry to stop supporting the coal industry before COP21. Morgan Stanley has yet to address the issue.

Read our article, World’s Biggest Coal Miner Gets Help From Major Banks.

Power Industry

The Global Sustainable Electricity Partnership – which delivered about a third of the world’s electricity last year – also issued an open letter that points to core policies that can "foster the innovation and investment required to meet ambitious climate and energy goals." 

Signatories are: American Electric Power (USA), Électricité de France, Eletrobras (Brazil), ENEL (Italy), EuroSibEnergo (Russia), Hydro-Québec (Canada), Iberdrola (Spain), Kansai Electric Power Company (Japan), RusHydro (Russia), RWE (Germany) and State Grid Corporation of China.

They urge governments to embrace these principles: 

  • Establish stable, clear, consistent, long-term policies that foster a clean, affordable, secure electricity supply.
  • Develop a systemic approach to electricity systems that allows providers to plan, design, construct and operate the most advanced power systems possible.
  • "Make urgent progress" on research and development that advances economically viable technologies that can  stabilize and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The power sector is responsible for 25% of greenhouse gas emissions, followed by forestry and land use (23%), industry (18%), transport (14%) and buildings (6%).

In June, Europe’s oil companies called for a carbon tax as part of a long-term, stable climate agreement that signals the way forward.

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