The 2018 G7 meeting (8-9 June) had many twists and turns. However, amid all the political noise the G6 – the G7 minus the US - reaffirmed their commitment to implementing the Paris Agreement, a clear sign they heard the strong calls for action coming from the real world economy.
Ahead of the G7 Summit, 288 institutional investors with assets of US $26 trillion called on governments to step up their climate change efforts.
The list of signatories to the call is growing, and more investors are expected to add their voice to this call throughout the summer, at the same time they are coming together to take unprecedented climate action through initiatives such as CDP, the Investor Agenda and the Climate Action 100+.
A communication to G7 Heads of State from We Mean Business, again coming ahead of the G7 meeting, adds even further weight to this call, echoing the voice of investors and urging greater action.
Around the globe, the private sector is already leading the way, with 417 companies now having set, or committed to set, emissions reductions in line with climate science.
The position of leaders in the real economy going into the G7 was clear: the low-carbon transition is unstoppable - the pace and depth of change must rapidly accelerate - global emissions must peak in 2020 and rapidly decline thereafter in order to meet the Paris goals.
So, how did the G7 respond to these calls?
The Charlevoix G7 Summit Communiqué included a strong statement of leaders “determination to achieve a clean environment, clean air, and clean water” and a “strong commitment to implement the Paris Agreement, through ambitious climate action”. The US’s signature was sadly, although not unexpectedly, left off the document.
The G6 and EU highlighted the importance of reducing emissions, enhancing adaptive capacity and strengthening and financing resilience. They also reaffirmed their commitment to adopting a common set of guidelines at COP24 which will enable rapid implementation of the Paris Agreement by all countries.
The Communiqué included an essential commitment to carbon pricing, although it made no reference to the financial disclosure regulation proposed by private sector voices.
So, what about the US?
Different positioning from the other countries on climate and energy was clear in the document, continuing the trend set at last year’s G20 meeting, and at the last minute the US decided not to sign the document at all.
But while the US continues to pull back from climate action, the private sector shows no signs of slowing down.
Some 24 US headquartered companies have already set science-based emission reduction targets, with another 60 companies committed to following suit. More companies have made this commitment in the US than in any other countries, including the likes of McDonalds, Mars, Dell, PepsiCo, Colgate Palmolive and General Mills.
The US also has more CDP A List companies than any other country, with well-known American brands such as Microsoft, Kellogg, and Ford leading on corporate sustainability.
Out of 125 global corporates which have committed to source 100% of their electricity from renewables through the RE100 initiative, 45 are based in the US. These include big names like Apple, Bank of America, Facebook, Johnson & Johnson, Google and Starbucks.
Public/private collaboration will be key
Companies in the US and around the world are demonstrating real leadership on climate action, so it was great to see that the governments of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the European Union, recognized the importance of working with the private sector and with cities, states and regions.
The Communiqué stated that “collaborative partnerships… to identify and assess policy gaps, needs and best practices” are a vital part of the fight against climate change.
This is certainly to be welcomed, and indeed echoes the message of the UNFCCC-led “Talanoa Dialogue for Climate Ambition”.
The dialogue is a year-long process between governments, the private sector, subnational governments and all other members of civil society, designed to strengthen global climate ambition ahead of governments submitting new and updated Nationally Determined Contributions in 2020.
CDP recently took part in the Talanoa Dialogue workshops at the Bonn Climate Change Conference alongside national governments. Our message there was loud and clear:
“Spurred by the Paris Agreement, and the signals of future legislation, more leading companies are taking action and embedding low-carbon goals into their long-term future business plans. We are getting ever closer to a 2020 tipping point that will mainstream environmental action but collectively we need to move faster. We call on Parties to send a clear signal for strengthened ambition at COP24, which will bolster our efforts to transform the real economy.”
Now is the time to step up
The next six months will be crucial in the fight against climate change, and there will be many more discussions between governments before the official climate talks in Poland at the end of the year.
From the Petersberg Climate Dialogue to the G20, from the Global Climate Action Summit to COP 24, governments around the world must take notice of the huge groundswell of climate action by subnational actors, raise their ambition for climate action, and continue to send the clear market signals that the real economy needs to act.