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UN: businesses ‘increasingly significant’ in fight against climate change



Initiatives and actions taken by ‘non-state actors’, such as businesses and cities, are becoming “increasingly important” in fighting climate change and could result in 1.8 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent being saved by 2020, according to a UN study.

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has published the report Climate Commitments of Subnational Actors and Businesses. The study looks at 15 major initiatives in the areas of cities, regions, business and sectors, such as energy efficiency, methane, agriculture and finance.

UNEP found that 180 initiatives, involving more than 20,000 organisations, were in place by April 2015, indicating even greater potential for emission cuts beyond those assessed. The projected carbon savings could come close to 1.8 gigatonnes of carbon by the end of the decade.

Achim Steiner, UNEP executive director, said, “Initiatives by cities, businesses and industrial sectors to cut emissions can contribute and support national emission commitments, bringing significant savings of CO2 equivalent.

“Government pledges are currently expected to deliver an impact of between 5 and 7 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2020, highlighting the significance of the estimated emissions reduction from non-state actors.”

The corporate sector is currently responsible for around 20% of greenhouse gas emissions globally. As a result the report describes businesses as having a “big role to play” in the success of limiting global warming. Looking exclusively at companies taking part in initiatives, the report finds that the emission reduction impact of these companies is likely to reach 0.63 gigatonnes of carbon equivalent by 2020.

As cities produce almost half of all greenhouse gas emissions they are labelled as being “central to tackling climate change”. The three city initiatives analysed for the study suggest potential savings of up to 1.08 gigatonnes of carbon within the next five years.

The report concludes that many initiatives are just getting off the found, providing scope for further growth and as a result further emission reductions.

Photo: Ken Tegardin

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Further reading:

John Lewis, SSE and M&S among British firms calling for climate action

British businesses urged to ‘show leadership in charity work and philanthropy’

Three quarters of business leaders recognise direct climate risks

Report urges businesses to act on climate change

New series demonstrates climate change impacts on businesses

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