This guest post is by Christopher N. Fox at Ceres and was originally published here on Ceres’ blog, Clean Trillion.
The UN climate conference now underway in Paris represents a critical opportunity to limit the risks of climate change and accelerate the shift to clean energy. That’s why Ceres and leading investors and businesses are in Paris making the economic case for a strong global climate agreement. Together, we are focused on the dual objectives of addressing climate risks by ratcheting down reliance on high carbon resources, on the one hand, while simultaneously seizing the Clean Trillion opportunity tied to clean energy investment and transition, on the other.
Record investor and business support
As the Paris negotiations officially have kicked off, over 400 investors with more than $24 trillion in assets released a statement calling for an ambitious global agreement on climate change. That’s the largest-ever group of investors calling for strong government action on climate change. Investors are publicizing their clean energy investments through the Global Investor Coalition on Climate Change’s Low-Carbon Investment Registry, and announcing other actions they are taking on climate change through the new Investor Platform for Climate Actions.
In addition, more than 1,600 companies have signed Ceres’ Climate Declaration; 147 companies have signed the White House Act on Climate Business Pledge; six major U.S. banks released a statement calling for a strong climate deal; and the CEOs of 14 major food companies have launched a high profile climate pledge. And thousands of businesses worldwide are joining forces with the We Mean Business Coalition in support of climate policy action.
Tackling climate change is a multi-trillion dollar opportunity
Combating climate change requires rapid, large-scale shifting from fossil fuels to clean energy. This transition to clean energy is a multi-trillion dollar opportunity. To limit warming to below two degrees Celsius – a key goal of the Paris climate talks – the International Energy Agency estimates the world needs to invest an additional $40 trillion in clean energy by 2050. That’s slightly more than an additional $1 trillion invested in clean energy – a “Clean Trillion” – per year for the next 35 years.
The Paris climate talks are catalyzing important momentum toward the Clean Trillion goal. The national climate plans that almost every nation in the world has submitted to the UN can spur $13.5 trillion in investment in energy efficiency and low-carbon technologies between 2015 and 2030, according to a recent IEA analysis.
Much more action needed after Paris
A strong Paris climate agreement will accelerate the transition to clean energy, but much more action will be needed in the years ahead to limit warming to below two degrees Celsius. In the months after Paris, the most important single step that the U.S. can take to lead on climate change is to implement the EPA Clean Power Plan, the first-ever nationwide limits on carbon pollution from electric power plants. This US plan for boosting electric sector clean energy transition is a critically important step for the climate and the economy, as recognized by leading voices in the business community — more than 365 companies and investors announced their support for the plan in a July 2015 letter coordinated by Ceres.
As aptly noted by Letitia Webster, senior director of global sustainability at VF Corporation, a North Carolina-based apparel company whose brands include The North Face, Timberland and Reef, “The Clean Power Plan will enable us to continue to invest in clean energy solutions and further advance our greenhouse gas reduction goals.”
And as Mars, Inc. Global Sustainability Director Kevin Rabinovitch points out, “It’s going to take action from all of us … For businesses like Mars, that means delivering on efficiency and renewable energy; for the EPA and state governors, that means developing and delivering against initiatives like the Clean Power Plan.”
Both VF Corporation and Mars are represented as part of the delegation of business and investor leaders that Ceres is bringing to the Paris climate talks to support strong climate policy action. By backing a strong Paris climate agreement and the EPA Clean Power Plan, leading investors and businesses are making a smart business decision. They are supporting policies that will expand investment in the clean energy technologies that the world needs to stabilize the climate and promote a sustainable economy and world.
To learn more about Ceres plans for COP21 in Paris, and what actions leading investor and business leaders have been taking on the road through Paris click here.