COP21: why should you care?

Whilst the sustainability world is buzzing with the COP acronym, companies don’t necessarily see what the fuss is all about. Why should businesses care about COP21? A recent PwC survey estimated that only 46% of CEOs think an agreement in Paris would drive action on climate change, showing that a large part of companies are not expecting much from the December talks.

But COP21 is important for businesses.

One result of the Bonn conference, in preparation for the COP, was the potential addition of the ‘decarbonisation of the global economy over the course of this century’ as a target. We all know the global economy cannot be decarbonised if companies are not decarbonised too.

In a more immediate future, the European INDC target to increase renewable energy by 112% by 2030 sends a clear message to companies: with more renewables available soon, businesses will be expected to move towards efficient energy and stop investing in fossil fuels. Companies should also prepare themselves for further government policies developed in a post-COP21 world.

But if all that isn’t enough to convince us, there’s more. Reports underline an increase in customer attention thanks to the media hype around COP21, and customer awareness is cited as a driver for action by 80% of CEOs. As customers start to care, so will companies.

And if your business isn’t doing something about climate change, chances are your main competitor is. This year has seen the intensification of initiatives led by large businesses to commit to targets of their own: 10 multinationals in the food and beverage sector pledged in a letter to COP political leaders to improve sustainability in their supply chain and be transparent about their environmental commitments. More broadly, the We Mean Business coalition of companies together with the CDP index have developed platforms for company pledges – with over 260 recorded as of now. More than an opportunity for those businesses to stay ahead, their unified pledges are also a way to try and pressure country leaders into acting effectively in December. Has your business thought about joining the movement?

It will have to, sooner or later.

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