Major Firms Call for Climate Agreement in Paris

Fourteen major companies based or with large-scale operations in the US have voiced strong support for a new global climate agreement at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris later this year.

In a statement organized by the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES), the companies — Alcoa, Alstom, BHP Billiton, BP, Calpine, HP, Intel, Lafargeholcim, National Grid, PG&E, Rio Tinto, Schneider Electric, Shell and Siemens — called for “a more balanced and durable multilateral framework guiding and strengthening national efforts to address climate change.”

The Paris agreement, the companies said, should commit countries to undertake nationally determined efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; provide strong transparency to hold countries accountable; require periodic renewal of national contributions to progressively strengthen the global effort; and facilitate global carbon markets.

The companies have combined revenues of $1.1 trillion and more than 1.5 million employees.

“These are companies with real skin in the game — either they’re large emitters or their products are. They know emissions need to come down and are taking steps on their own. But they believe the low-carbon transition requires stronger leadership from governments, too,” said C2ES president Bob Perciasepe.

Governments are in the final stages of a four-year round of negotiations toward a new global agreement under the 1992 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The agreement is to be concluded at the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 21) set for Nov. 30-Dec. 11 in Paris.

The companies cited multiple ways a new agreement under the UNFCCC can help strengthen the role of the private sector in addressing in climate change:

  • An aim of progressively decarbonizing the global economy can provide a clearer signal to markets to shift long-term investments toward energy efficiency and other lower-carbon alternatives.
  • Requiring countries to be transparent about their policy intentions and implementation can provide greater clarity on domestic policy landscapes, helping companies anticipate regulatory risks and economic opportunities.
  • Agreement by all major economies to contribute their fair share, and to simultaneously and regularly renew their contributions, can lead towards greater comparability of effort, helping to ease concerns about potential carbon leakage and competitive imbalances.
  • Requiring countries engaging in international carbon trading to ensure the environmental integrity of these transactions can help facilitate the growth and credibility of the global carbon market, a critical tool for cost-effective emissions reduction.

Earlier this month C2ES launched a new initiative, the C2ES Solutions Forum, to bring together businesses, cities and states to expand clean energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and strengthen resilience to climate change. The GE Foundation is a major sponsor of the C2ES Solutions Forum, along with Bloomberg Philanthropies, Energy Foundation and JPB Foundation.