After the successful Paris climate agreement, the momentum in finding and developing solutions is growing within countries, cities and companies. The growth of companies participating We Mean Business coalition is a direct indication of this. Altogether 471 leading companies with a total revenue of over US$8.000 billion and 183 investors managing assets of over US$ 20.000 billion have joined the climate mitigation initiatives by the coalition. In addition, many leading business associations working sustainability or climate mitigation have established partnerships with We Mean Business, Climate Leadership Coalition (CLC) being one of them.
BSR, which is one of the co-founders of We Mean Business, arranged together with CLC and StoraEnso an event on ways how to accelerate climate mitigation actions in order to fulfill Paris agreement objectives and keep the global warming below +2C centigrades in Finland on 25 October 2016. Although the Paris agreement was an unprecedented success preventing the most dangerous global warming path, country level objectives (NDCs) are still not sufficient to keep us below +2C. According to Climate Action Tracker we are still heading higher than +2,7C warming, and only five countries have sufficient NDCs for the target below +2C target. The latest estimations show that with current emission level, we would miss a 66% chance of staying below +1,5C in five years and a 66% chance of staying below +2C in twenty years.
Standards & Poors and IEA have estimated that we need $ 16,5 trillion investments into cleantech and energy efficiency by 2030 to meet 2 C goal. We need to triple our annual investment level from the $300–350 billion into ~$1.100 billion. And we need to increase RD&D significantly. D King, N Stern, A Turner et.al. have analyzed that worldwide, publicly-funded RD&D on renewable energy is less than 2% of the total of publicly funded research and development – only around $6 billion in total.
From the business point of view, the need for new solutions is huge and urgent, making this the biggest business opportunity in the history of mankind. We need to decarbonize the energy systems and to transform transportation, most industries, construction, agriculture and forestry decreasing their carbon footprint near zero in the coming three to four decades.
On the meeting we identified that in order to reach below +2C path, we need to
- use carbon price more effectively in making the CO2-polluting more expensive, enabling market mechanisms and open innovation and using the carbon price income as an accelerator in the transformation
- move to renewable energy quicker also within a company level
- demand lower carbon footprint also in the supply chains
- start to develop commercial scale solutions for negative emissions, ie. capturing CO2 from the atmosphere or storing it permanently.
As time goes by and provided that fossil emissions will stay high, solutions for negative emissions will become more and more important. We have started to rely more and more on negative emissions. Forests offer natural solutions for carbon capture and wood based buildings and materials a solution for carbon storage. Wood harvesting means that the growth is stored in wood products. Replanting is part of a global climate solution. However, negative-emission technologies are not an insurance policy, and an excuse to continue using fossil fuels, but it will have an important role in offsetting those emissions that are very hard to eliminate otherwise. Sweden is a good reference case; a Swedish cross-party committee released recently a strategy that aims at carbon neutrality by 2045 by reducing emissions with 85% and offsetting the rest e.g. by using negative emissions.
“It was a pleasure to see how much expertise and motivation there is in Finland to address climate change. I want to salute CLC in getting so many high quality and high impact organizations to collaborate in ways that drive ambition on climate with business success. I look forward to harvesting lessons from Finland for broader use as we build climate compatible economies across the globe,” said Edward Cameron, Managing Director of BSR and policy engagement lead for We Mean Business.
Jouni Keronen, Executive Director, CLC