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Ever since negotiations in Copenhagen in 2009, governments have been struggling to put momentum into global climate change negotiations. That’s no surprise. Fossil fuels currently make our economy go round and replacing them has been perceived as expensive and complex, especially during an economic downturn. Renewable technology is evolving fast but issues remain about its widespread deployment. Throw in arguments on how you split responsibility for solving climate change between developed and developing world and you’ve got lots of reasons why progress has been slow.
 
The CGF Board understands these challenges but believes more needs to be done to secure a strong global agreement.
 
The CGF draws its membership from many sectors serving the consumer but it’s weighted towards the food and drink industry, manufacturers and retailers. Many CGF members are seeing the reality of climate change today, particularly in supply chains. Disruptive extreme weather events, water shortages and soil loss, for example, are resulting in high and volatile food and energy costs. For many CGF Board members climate change is no longer a theory it’s a day-to-day challenge.
 
The CGF Board believe that strong action is needed now from governments to ensure that a robust framework is put in place to reduce the future impact of climate change. Without this decisive action impacts will worsen, costs will increase, the world’s poor will suffer further hunger and malnutrition and global stability will be jeopardised. 
 
We are equally clear though that business needs to play a leading role in tackling climate change. In 2010, the CGF Board passed two far reaching Resolutions asking its members to achieve zero net deforestation in their supply chains by 2020 and to start phasing out the use of potent greenhouse gases (HFCs) in refrigeration by 2015.
 
This work has in turn created new collaborations, most notably the Tropical Forest Alliance (TFA) which brings business, civil society and governments together to address deforestation, and the Banking Environment Initiative (BEI) which is encouraging the finance sector to play its part too. And now the CGF is encouraging its members to participate in new initiatives to engage consumers in tackling climate change.
 
The CGF’s call for government action was not made lightly. We appreciate the complexity of getting 100+ countries to agree a course of action; the challenge of securing the funds for change; and the risks associated with deploying new technology. 
 
But as business leaders we believe we’ve reached a tipping point where the costs (economic, human and environmental) of in-action outweigh these challenges. COP21 in Paris in December 2015 is a crucial moment when Heads of State can be bold in agreeing a strong, long term, legally binding global framework on climate change. We are committed to supporting the COP21 process, ensuring there is a positive business voice for strong action on climate change.
 

 

This post was written and contributed by:

Mike Barry, Director of Sustainable Business, Marks and Spencer (left)
Jeff Seabright, CSO, Unilever (right)
Co-Chairs of the Sustainability Steering Committee