The United Nations launched a major new initiative on Tuesday designed to encourage businesses and consumers to voluntarily become ‘climate neutral’ and some of the world’s leading companies including Microsoft, Sony, Adidas have already pledged their support.
The Climate Neutral Now scheme urges governments, companies and individuals to measure their climate footprint, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and offset the remainder of their remissions.
The aim of the project is to encourage voluntary action from the private sector and consumers to help reduce GHG emissions and facilitate a global transition to carbon neutrality by 2050.
The initiative is also designed to support the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference in Paris in December when an ambitious and historic global climate agreement is due to be signed to prevent an average global temperature increase of 2°C above pre-industrial times that scientists say would cause catastrophic impacts of climate change.
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Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) said: “Climate neutrality is a long term vision of the world we want this century and backed by science. The new universal agreement to be inked in Paris this December at COP21 needs to be a springboard to that future. It is going to require action today and tomorrow and everyone needs to get on board– from governments and corporations to cities, regions and individuals”.
The initiative includes a new online platform that enables users to choose from a range of Certified Emissions Reductions (CERs) for UN-verified carbon offsets and includes links to organisations that can provide businesses with climate footprint measurement and reduction advice and support.
The scheme was launched at Climate Week in New York City on Tuesday and celebrities including actor Edward Norton and designer Vivenne Westwood have also committed to supporting the initiative.
Ed Norton said: “We all need to take personal responsibility to combat the threat of climate change. Join me in the Climate Neutral Now initiative to reduce the impact of climate change and offset carbon emissions. Help protect the ecosystems that sustain biodiversity and save the livelihoods of billions of people around the world.”
Other leading firms including IKEA and Marks & Spencer’s have pledge their support for the initiative as well as numerous SMEs and business associations.
Microsoft’s chief environmental strategist Rob Bernard said: “Microsoft believes that companies – and particularly information technology companies – have an important role to play in reducing carbon emissions. In 2012, this belief led our company to set an ambitious goal to be 100 per cent carbon neutral. We have accomplished this by boosting efficiencies, investing in renewable energy and funding a carbon offset programme.”
Bernard added: “We are supporting Climate Neutral Now because we believe in the power of accountability and have witnessed the transformative nature of carbon offset projects and sustainable community development, particularly in emerging nations.”
Figueres added: “I’ve already pledged to personally become Climate Neutral Now and invite you to join me in measuring, reducing and offsetting your emissions. Over time the need for offsets is going to decline as energy systems become ever more low carbon, healthy ecosystems like forests expand and we arrive at a climate neutral world in the second half of the century. Climate change will affect everyone, yet everyone can effect positive change starting today and beginning now.”
At the launch of Climate Week NYC 2015 on Tuesday, Leonardo DiCaprio announced he will divest his multi-million dollar fortune as part of the growing global divestment movement that now exceeds $2.6 trillion.