COP21: corporations working towards a sustainable future for the environment

Raising awareness of urgent environmental issues

COP21 brings together the political classes of 195 participating nations, numerous proactive members of the international community and several corporations more conscious than ever of their responsibility and potential influence. These companies have been particularly demonstrative of the measures they have taken to combat global warming.

20% of the funding necessary for COP21 has been covered by corporate sponsorship, either through direct financial contributions or by payment in kind.

COP21 event partner and French company EDF will supply the conference with low-carbon electricity and has committed to offset any residual emissions with various compensatory mechanisms. EDF’s subsidiary, Sodetrel, will provide electrical charging points for all vehicles serving the conference site. Nissan Renault, also an official COP21 partner, has provided a fleet of 200 zero-emission shuttle cars, powered entirely by electricity.

CSR promises significant future progress 

Companies are key players in the effort to tackle environmental issues, regardless of whether or not they contribute directly to global warming. Indeed, Richard Heed’s research published by scientific journal Climatic Change reveals that only 90 companies are responsible for 2/3 of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions accumulated since the industrial revolution.

The graph below, published by The Guardian, shows that the majority of these companies extract fossil raw materials, petrol, gas and coal as part of their production processes. This fact alone requires consideration of what the appropriate emergency measures might be to accelerate an energy transition within this sector.

COP21 the guardian environnement entreprises responsables changements climatiques red-on-line

[To access the interactive graph, click on the image or on this link.]

A significant number of companies are becoming increasingly concerned by the causes of environmental issues, irrespective of their sector, and are already participating in different initiatives such as WWF’s initiative Climate Savers, the RE100 initiative of Climate Group and the Caring for Climate of Global Compact, to name but a few.

President Barack Obama recently expressed his view on the need to coordinate actors and actions for a better world:

There is not a contradiction between growth, development and being good stewards of the planet – they are complementary.”[6] He also stated: “The old rules that said we couldn’t grow our economies and protect our environment at the same time are outdated. We can transition to clean energy without squeezing businesses and consumers.”

British Prime Minister David Cameron also clarified that companies as well as governments play an important role in climate change:

The issue of climate change is too large for governments alone to deal with. That is why businesses and private donors must play an active role in shaping our response to climate change and enabling trillions of dollars of investment in clean technology.”

International companies committed to ambitious deals

Companies are already cooperating on a global scale to support energy transition and are already implementing actions to protect the future of our planet. 13 corporations in the United States, including Walmart, Coca-Cola and Google have committed to reduce their carbon emissions by signing up to the White House’s “American Business Act on Climate.”

Beverage giant Coca-Cola said that it would cut greenhouse gas by 25% by 2020 while Apple plans to invest $848 million over 25 years in solar energy and contribute around 280 megawatts of clean power. Manufacturing corporate Alcoa also pledges to reduce its emissions by 50% in the USA by 2025.

Furthermore, the IKEA group is now working to ensure the company exclusively uses renewable energy. IKEA’s Chief Sustainability officer Steve Howard comments: “COP21 is now about opportunity sharing.” In the finance sector, Bank of America has invested more than $39 billion in low-carbon activities.

It is clear that companies are increasingly aware of the urgency of the issues affecting the environment and are united in their efforts to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.

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