Climate change is the defining challenge of our times. A ‘code red for humanity’ in the words of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres. Today, global temperatures are already more than 1°C higher than they were in pre-industrial times and we are seeing the effects of this rise through more frequent wildfires, droughts, floods and a growing number of extreme weather events.
The Paris Agreement showed that the global community is united in its desire to tackle global warming, and yet, six years later, progress has been slow. On current trends we are looking at a 3°C increase in temperatures by the end of the century which would drive a significant rise in extreme weather events and cause havoc to people and planet.
We believe through the drive, innovation and skills that exist within businesses that many of the solutions to the climate crisis – and the financing of these solutions – will become reality. For example, businesses are playing a key role by:
- identifying ways to minimise the carbon footprint of their operations;
- developing products and service that can help others minimise their footprint;
- collaborating with their customers, suppliers, regulators and competitors to identify ways to reduce the footprint of their value-chain; and
- using their influence to drive changes within the wider economy
As a firm we play our own role by setting ambitious environmental targets and by collaborating with others to help drive this transition. This includes authoring the report ‘A Legal Framework for Impact’ commissioned by the UNPRI, UNEPFI and The Generation Foundation, and leading the New York Circular City Initiative.
We also advise our clients on their own sustainability goals while they navigate the business risks inherent in climate change and the opportunities the low-carbon transition presents to address those risks.
We are therefore delighted to add our voice to an open letter from over 600 global businesses representing over $2.5tn in revenue and employing more than 8.5 million people worldwide that calls on G20 governments to strengthen their carbon reduction commitments. The letter urges the world’s biggest economies to end coal power development, deliver on the existing commitment to $100bn in climate finance annually for developing countries, to end fossil fuel subsidies by 2025 and to put a price on carbon. It also calls for the scaling-up of the electrification of transport and renewable energy across sectors, including the removal of barriers to corporate purchasing of 100 per cent renewable electricity.
The actions included in the letter will largely be government-led through regulatory and policy changes but will require collaboration between governments and all stakeholders including the business and legal community, civil society and academia.