Business leaders join UN Secretary-General, Heads of State and young entrepreneurs to tackle climate crisis

16 October 2019 | Mitigation

More than 150 Chief Executives from the world’s leading businesses joined Heads of State and Governments, young entrepreneurs, and leaders from both the United Nations and civil society today at the UN Secretary-General’s landmark Climate Action Summit.

Working together to keep global temperature rise below 1.5?C and to ensure a just transition to a net-zero future by 2050 were the major topics of discussion at a series of events organized by the UN Global Compact during the 74th regular session of the UN General Assembly.

The Private Sector Forum — the official luncheon of the Climate Action Summit — brought together more than 350 global climate leaders for a multi-stakeholder, intergenerational dialogue designed to help the world urgently align on a collective course of action in tackling the climate crisis. The Forum also provided a platform to recognize the Chief Executives of 87 companies that had stepped up their climate ambitions by committing to set 1.5?C-aligned science-based emission reduction targets through the Business Ambition for 1.5?C — Our Only Future campaign. 

Speaking at the Forum, UN Secretary-General António Guterres emphasized the critical role that businesses play in challenging Governments to be accountable for enacting climate action plans aligned with a net-zero future, saying, “My appeal to all of you is not only to have a very strong commitment to the green economy, not only to bet on a carbon-neutral future for your businesses, but also to use your leverage in relation to Governments and to explain to them that it is much better to tax carbon than to tax income.”

“The point is not that we need to put into question the market economy to achieve a green future. The point is that we need to abolish distortions of the market economy and [instead] create incentives for normalcy to happen, which is needed for the green future to effectively happen,” added Mr. Guterres.

In her special remarks, Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern articulated the importance of optimism when it comes to the climate challenge, saying: “If we only talk about the loss of glacier mass or about sea level rises, we run the risk of a society and a generation that believes all is lost and that it is simply too late. It is not. No one has the luxury of copping out — not those who deny climate change nor those who believe it’s too far gone. Now is the time for optimism and for hope — but crucially that must be coupled with a plan.”

“Having a network of business leaders that are committed to science-based targets in line with the Paris Agreement creates incredible leverage and the opportunity to apply international best practice to dramatically reduce their emissions,” Prime Minister Ardern added. “Ultimately if we treat the transition to a low-carbon economy as an investment — as an opportunity — then we can and should expect a return on that investment above and beyond merely staving off a crisis.”

Addressing the global leaders in attendance, Lise Kingo, CEO and Executive Director of the UN Global Compact, said, “At the UN Global Compact — with our friends from the UN and all our friends from the business community — we have launched a very ambitious campaign where we are asking companies across the world to adopt a 1.5?C science-based target. Today, we have 87 companies that have taken this hugely innovative, strong leadership commitment.”

The event also featured innovation pitches from young climate entrepreneurs, as well as a live polling and dialogue segment with all participants, challenging them to reflect on some of the toughest questions we face in limiting the worst impacts of climate change.


Source: UN GC