December 2 / Day 3
Does the Paris Agreement need to solve all things for climate change?
This question occurred to me during my panel discussion at World Resources Institute’s “Built to Last: A Functional Agreement to Meet Global Needs” session yesterday, when a woman from the Citizens’ Climate Lobby asked what I thought would happen if a price on carbon was not included in the final agreement.
On Day 2 of COP21, it struck me that a lot of people share this woman’s fear: “What if my all climate-related issues are not covered in the agreement? Will Paris be a failure?”
French President François Hollande; Minster of Ecology, Sustainable Development, and Energy Ségolène Royal; and environmentalist Nicolas Hulot visit the Climate Generation area of Le Bourget. Photo: COP Paris
The answer is no. We should not hinge our vision of success in Paris on getting everything we can into the agreement. Plenty of important activity is already happening outside COP. In the private sector, 67 companies are aligning with the UN Global Compact’s business leadership criteria on carbon pricing, meaning they are setting an internal carbon price and publicly advocating for carbon pricing. Additionally, almost 40 countries and more than 20 cities, states, and provinces use carbon-pricing mechanisms or are planning to implement them.
Indeed, Paris is already likely to achieve a great deal. We are on the brink of agreeing to a long-term goal to stabilize the global climate, providing policy certainty to business. Governments are likely to agree to renew commitments every five years, ensuring ambition is progressively increased. And for the first time, we have climate-action plans covering the whole spectrum of major economies and a total of 184 countries. This, coupled with commitments from 469 companies and investors, will make climate action inevitable, irresistible, and irreversible.
But Paris is just a starting point—“not a finish line,” as Chinese President Xi said on Monday. One of the major themes at COP this year is connecting the global climate agreement to the real economy. To do that, we need to stop thinking about Paris as the end of the road and focus instead on how we carry this momentum through Paris and beyond.
What's Important Now
With 184 intended nationally determined contributions, or INDCs, covering more than 95 percent of emissions, projected warming should decrease to 2.7°C. This bold climate action offers an historic economic opportunity to accelerate the transition to a thriving, clean economy. But to achieve our goal of holding warming below 2°C, governments must return every five years to strengthen these commitments—and a successful Paris Agreement will establish these rounds of commitments every five years. This will allow policy to “ratchet up” ambition and align with the pace of private-sector innovation.
For each round, governments should:
- Take stock of their collective progress toward the long-term goals in the Paris Agreement to inform the preparation of their new commitments.
- Discuss their proposed commitments to ensure that all are doing their fair share.
- Inscribe their new commitments under the Paris Agreement.
We hope to see a successful Paris Agreement—and a meeting scheduled for another round of commitments in 2020.
BSR's Climate Insights
Here’s our latest dispatch from COP21:
And with our event (10 a.m.-1 p.m.) today on the role of the agriculture industry, here are some blogs on how food and agriculture is addressing its climate impacts:
- Walking the Walk: How Food and Agriculture Businesses Can Take Action on Climate: Read more
- How General Mills Worked with BSR to Set Ambitious, Science-Based Climate Targets: Read more
- Translating Climate Science to Build a Resilient Agriculture Sector: Read more
What We're Reading
- The Business Brief: Shaping a Catalytic Paris Agreement | We Mean Business | November 2015: Read more
- Highlights: World Leaders Open Paris Climate Change Talks | Reuters | November 30, 2015: Read more
- Climate Warriors | Vogue | November 30, 2015: Read more
- In Paris, Managing Humanity’s Relationship with Earth’s Climate Becomes Normal | New York Times Dot Earth | November 30, 2015: Read more
- Business Backs Low-Carbon USA | December 1, 2015: Read more
- A Path for Climate Change, Beyond Paris | New York Times | December 1, 2015: Read more
With so many events and activities taking place in Paris throughout COP21, here’s a short list of events BSR is hosting and where we will have speakers:
December 2, 10 a.m.-1 p.m., at Galerie des Solutions at Le Bourget
BSR and Field to Market will host “From Field to Market: Leadership and Collaboration in U.S. and Global Agriculture,” an event sponsored by PepsiCo. For more information, visit www.bsr.org/en/events/view/from-field-to-market-leadership-and-collaboration. This event features special guest French Minister of Foreign Affairs Laurent Fabius, president of the COP21, who will join to officially open La Galerie des Solutions, and U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who will provide the opening keynote.
December 3, 3-4:30 p.m., in the Conference Center (Blue Zone) at Le Bourget, Observer Room 3
BSR’s Managing Director of Partnership Development and Research Edward Cameron will speak at “Scaling Up Private-Sector Financing for Adaptation Projects,” hosted by Canada’s International Development Research Centre, the Frankfurt School-UNEP Collaborating Centre for Climate and Sustainable Energy Finance, the Renewable Energy and Efficiency Partnership, and the International Center for Environmental Technology Transfer.
December 4, 3-4:30 p.m., at the Grand Palais
BSR Senior Vice President Eric Olson will speak at the CDP-L’Oréal supply-chain event, which will showcase the related global benefits of meeting ambitious supply chain targets. For more information, visit wemeanbusinesscoalition.org/events/cdp-supply-chain-event-loreal.
December 4, 3-6:15 p.m., in the Conference Center (Blue Zone) at Le Bourget
BSR will host “Short-Lived Climate Pollutants” as part of the Lima-Paris Action Agenda. BSR President and CEO Aron Cramer will provide an address and showcase companies that have pledged to reduce emissions from short-lived climate pollutants, as well as private-sector initiatives led by the UNEP-Climate and Clean Air Coalition. BSR will also preview reports written on the topic with the UNEP-Climate and Clean Air Coalition, which will be released in early 2016. For more information, visit newsroom.unfccc.int/lpaa/events/#COP21.