A Big Milestone on the Road from Paris

August 18, 2016
  • Aron Cramer portrait

    Aron Cramer

    President and CEO, BSR

The Paris Agreement last December was a huge milestone resulting from intense, multi-year, multi-party negotiations. The exhilaration reverberated far beyond Paris, to the 196 nations that committed to groundbreaking steps to keep warming well below 2°C.

And as Christiana Figueres, who orchestrated this unprecedented commitment, put it at the time, “That was the easy part.” Our collective task now is to put words into action so that the promise of Paris is translated into a new reality.

This week brings very welcome news that suggests that progress toward the big goal set forth in Paris is happening. The We Mean Business coalition, of which BSR is a proud founding member, has marked the 1,000th commitment from companies and investors on the road from Paris to a climate-compatible economy that works for all.

This means that more than 600 businesses, in all sectors, have made new climate commitments in the past 18 months. This figure is hugely important, and not only because it is paving the way to achieve the Paris vision.

These commitments also show that business understands clearly that action on climate is in its interest. Companies that are adopting science-based targets, putting a price on carbon, and using renewable energy on a wide scale are more ambitious and resilient, and are investing in the future. In a great many cases, these commitments reflect big bets and are driven not only by the sustainability department, but also by visionary leaders in the boardroom, CEO’s office, and increasingly, CFO’s office.

At BSR, we have been delighted to work with many of our member companies to develop climate-compatible business strategies, renewable energy purchasing goals, supply chain efforts, and public policy engagements to ensure that they are at the forefront of a transition that will also bolster their commercial prospects. And we will soon launch the Resilience and Adaptation Initiative, or READI, which will help companies develop a comprehensive understanding of the climate impacts that continue to pose a material risk to business and society and, with READI members, will craft three-dimensional strategies for resilience.

We have also been very pleased to work with our We Mean Business partners on climate-smart agriculture, the Renewable Energy Buyers’ Alliance, public policy dialogues in Washington, D.C., and also in devising the policy engagement strategy for Paris and beyond.

As our colleagues at We Mean Business have said, these commitments are additional evidence that “the transition to the low-carbon economy is undeniable, inevitable, and irresistible.” These 1,000 commitments are a great marker of progress. They are a sign that we have accelerated progress since “the easy part” was accomplished in Paris. We all know that it will take a great many more such commitments, and even more ambition, to get where we need to go.

But eight months after the Paris Agreement was sealed, we can be confident that momentum continues to grow, and that we will realize the bold vision of the agreement.

Let’s talk about how BSR can help you to transform your business and achieve your sustainability goals.

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