The What, Why, and How of Corporate Involvement in COP21

November 24, 2015 Jenna Bieller

In a Nutshell: Corporate sustainability leaders are making smart business decisions in alignment with COP21 to mitigate climate impact in a way that bolsters reputation, improves operations, and manages regulatory risk.

What?  In less than a week, delegates from over 190 countries will convene in Paris to commence COP21: a series of climate talks with the goal to reach a legally binding agreement to reduce global carbon emissions. Many consider this U.N. Climate Summit to be the last chance for climate efforts to effectively stay below the 2 degree warming threshold, which climate scientists agree would allow us to avoid the most dangerous effects of climate change. Climate pledges made by countries before COP21 still fall short of avoiding this level of warming. This so-called “emissions gap” needs to be filled, and corporate engagement with sustainability and clean energy is the answer. According to PwC Sustainability, the actions of just 140 companies committed to the Low Carbon Technology Partnerships initiative could account for 65% of emissions reductions toward avoiding this 2 degree threshold.

Why?  The private sector is a primary emitter of CO2, from production of goods, to transportation, to end-of-life disposal. Nearly one-third of U.S. electricity consumption goes to commercial users, meaning companies have a significant impact on global emissions. Agreements made at COP21 will likely have mandatory requirements for governments without laying a specific course of action for business. However, national policies like the Clean Power Plan in the U.S. might. Early movers gain competitive advantage over companies that wait for regulation to invoke change. According to Climate Action, businesses that engage in corporate sustainability outcompete companies who do not by almost 10%. Why? Organizations that lead on clean energy commitments and operational efficiency are saving money and building a positive reputation with customers and investors.

How?  There are already 81 companies signed onto the White House American Businesses Act on Climate Pledge and 40 companies have committed to 100% renewable energy through The Climate Group’s RE100 initiative. Among signatories to these commitments are many big name Fortune 500 companies including Walmart, Google, and IKEA.

Companies eager to play an influential role on the conversation about business and sustainable development are organizing and attending COP21 business events in Paris. In addition to other smaller events, the Sustainable Innovation Forum and the World Climate Summit are two of the discussions coinciding this year’s U.N. climate summit.

How can your company join these industry leaders? In addition to public-facing pledges, organizations are joining collaborative business groups such as the We Mean Business (WMB) climate coalition, founded by CERES, BSR, CDP, and the World Business Council on Sustainable Development. On the operational side, businesses with high energy loads are directly reducing their impact – and energy cost exposure – with long-term commitments to buying renewable energy through power purchase agreements.

Whether your organization is directly involved in COP21 conversations or not, there are a variety of  opportunities for the private sector to turn climate risk mitigation into business opportunity.

Take it from Peter Agnefjall, President and CEO of industry-leader IKEA: “Sustainability is a key driver of innovation and an integral part of our business strategy. We see it as a great opportunity to improve our business. That’s why we’ve set ambitious 100% targets, for example for our LED lighting range, important raw materials and renewable energy. We are determined to grow IKEA while also having a positive impact on people and the planet.”

Is your business ready to reap the benefits of a sustainability strategy focused on affordable clean power? Contact Renewable Choice Energy today to learn about Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) and other market-leading renewable energy opportunities.

The post The What, Why, and How of Corporate Involvement in COP21 appeared first on Renewable Choice Energy.

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