Climate change

Three takeaways from the 2017 Business and Climate Summit

  • 13 September 2017

The latest Business and Climate Summit in New Delhi was historic in several ways.

From 31 August to 1 September, the third annual Business and Climate Summit took place in New Delhi, India. As the leading forum for business leaders, investors and policymakers on climate action, the summit offered a powerful symbol of the steps business is already taking to achieve global climate goals.

Here are three main takeaways from the event:

1. Business is taking historic action against climate change

Far from being an obstacle to the fulfilment of global climate goals, business is a leading proponent. The balanced framework of the Paris Agreement, for instance, provides business with the kind of long-term certainty it needs to plan for future growth.

Today, more companies are committing to leadership on climate action than at any other time in history, as was made clear by the many business representatives at the summit. Participants suggested that both governments and businesses should work together to develop roadmaps that factor in the transition needed in different sectors to meet global climate objectives and that climate partnerships, whether public-private or between companies, should also increase.

They are doing so for two main reasons. First, business recognises that, left unchecked, climate change will contribute to geographical instability and economic uncertainty—disrupting the supply chains and power supplies on which private sector operations depend. One recent study estimated that up to US$43 trillion of assets are at risk by 2100 because of climate change. It is in everyone’s interest to mitigate climate risk.

Second, taking action against climate change is part of a winning business model. Achieving global sustainable development objectives opens up US$12 trillion of market opportunities in various sectors and markets specifically aligned with the UN’s ‘Global Goals’ have the potential to grow three times faster than average GDP over the next five years.

2. A sustainable economy = a low-carbon economy

At the summit, business reaffirmed its commitment to achieving the central objective outlined in the Paris Agreement: holding global warming below 2°C. Leading companies at the event recognised that a low-carbon and resilient economy is the only way to secure sustainable economic growth and prosperity for all. In other words, complying with global objectives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is not opposed to economic growth. On the contrary, in our current stage of heightened climate risk the two are intrinsically linked.

Given this recognition, companies at the summit called on governments to keep climate change high on the political agenda, for a failure to mitigate risk would likely derail any other business or policy initiatives. To help lead the way toward a low-carbon future, governments were encouraged to foster investments in green infrastructure and to partner with business when revising their nationally determined contributions to limiting greenhouse gas emissions.

3. Business innovation can help countries ‘leapfrog’

For the first time, the Business and Climate Summit took place in an emerging nation this year—a move that was loaded with significance for the future. The robust participation of countries such as India, as well as less developed economies, will be crucial to meeting the global climate objectives outlined in the Paris Agreement. Business innovation can help some of the least developed areas in the world quickly adapt the green technologies that advanced economies are just now integrating into their everyday operations.

By sharing best practices, non-state actors including innovative cities and the world’s leading companies can build the partnerships needed to accelerate the transition to a greener economy. Public-private partnerships can catalyse leapfrogging by combining the innovative expertise of business with the reach and mandate of government.

Click here to see a collection of tweets from the #DelhiBCS.

Read more about ICC’s work on climate change here.