As Paris climate deal debate continues, companies say they want to change

13 Nov 2015

While many of the world’s nations are debating the minute details of a Paris climate deal, private companies at least seem like they want to get on board, according to a new survey.

Organised by the UN, the Paris climate deal is being hammered out by both the major international powers and smaller nations, but sadly it seems that the debate over the minute details of an agreement to lower carbon emissions has hit a stumbling block.

According to The Guardian, the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, has said that the US won’t sign up to an “international legally binding agreement”, much like the one signed in 1997 in Kyoto that forced nations to agree to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The US, in particular, has some history when it comes to the Kyoto deal as, under the presidency of George W Bush, the country pulled out of the agreement over fears that it would be detrimental to the US economy.

But while the nations argue over the terms of the agreement, there appears to be some surprising unanimous agreement between multinational corporations that they want to change their tack, seeing the deal as an opportunity, rather than a hindrance.

Get rid of fossil fuel subsidies

According to a global survey from Accenture of 750 business leaders from UN Global Compact participant companies, 70pc of executives representing companies with annual revenues of more than $1bn see climate change presenting opportunities for growth over the next five years.

Looking at the broader sample of business leaders across 121 countries, the majority – 54pc – of business leaders also agreed that it could help grow their companies, while 48pc believe that there is already a clear business case for action.

What is clear, however, is that these companies are looking for the incentive to change, with ‘legislative and fiscal mechanisms’ to help develop R&D, while also pushing through the removal or phasing out of fossil fuel subsidies.

“For perhaps the first time, we are beginning to see a united front of business leaders and policymakers setting their course toward a bold deal that can begin to close the gap between ambition and execution on climate,” said Peter Lacy, managing director of Accenture Strategy.

“It is clear from our research that business leaders increasingly see climate change through the lens of fundamental disruption in their industries, and that leading companies are approaching climate change as an opportunity for growth, innovation and competitive advantage.”

Whatever is agreed at next month’s summit, French astronaut Thomas Pesquet has said he will carry the text of any climate change deal, along with a French flag, aboard the International Space Station during his planned visit in November 2016.

“The environment is something that is close to my heart,” the 37-year-old astronaut said. “When they come back from space, astronauts are always a bit different because they have seen the fragility of the Earth.”

Eiffel tower image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic