Monday, November 30, 2015

A Who's Who Among the COP21 Commitments

As the clock ticks down to the United Nations COP21 climate talks in Paris this December, some companies have already staked out climate goals, some are signing onto new commitments and others remain on the sidelines. (Credit: Shutterstock/GreenBiz) Click to Enlarge.
So, you support a strong global agreement at the U.N. Conference of the Parties?  You want business, NGOs, policymakers and every stakeholder you forgot to mention to unite for once and for all to save the world.  Of course you do.  Put your name in lights in the City of Lights for what some see as an ultimate peace conference.

Such multilateral, international, never-before-scale-level of U.N. events hold so much promise.  This is no Kyoto.  This time will be different.  We can only hope so.  New private-sector alliances are formed — the names, the number of names and their pledges grand enough for you to bet on a low-carbon future.

Yet just as you may need a Ph.D in the subject to understand an IPCC climate report, you need some policy (or better, PR) chops to read between the lines.  Behind the talk of "strong" and "binding" "science-based" commitments is a serious lack of teeth for business.  Nevertheless, many corporations are stepping in where nations may fail, maybe wielding the might of nations themselves.

Among hundreds of corporations backing COP21 climate actions, few are trekking to Paris, instead backing blockbuster commitments or coalitions to represent them.  Here are some of the bulkiest groups, in random order.

Breakthrough Energy Coalition and Mission Innovation
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is teaming up with more than 20 other billionaires — including Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Jack Ma of Alibaba and Richard Branson of the Virgin Group — to support clean energy efforts in both industrialized and developing nations. Gates pointed out (PDF) that U.S. industries in 2010 invested .23 percent of revenue on energy, a speck against 15 percent spent on IT.

News of the alliance, to kick off today in Paris, broke over the weekend on GreenWire. The group pledged to invest "early, broadly, boldly, wisely and together" on energy generation, storage and efficiency; transportation;"industrial use" and agriculture.

Also Monday, a pack of 20 countries from Australia to the United States (and even Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates) vowed as Mission Innovation to "reinvigorate and accelerate" innovation, doubling their investments in clean energy R&D.
This bunch stands out for its "all-American" icons such as Apple, Coca-Cola, General Motors, Google, Kellogg, PepsiCo, Starbucks and UPS. The list goes on, but conspicuously absent are oil and gas brands (see OGCI below for non-U.S. names in that sector).

Read more at A Who's Who Among the COP21 Commitments

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