$1 Trillion Worth of Companies Urge Governments: Phase Out Unabated Fossil Fuels Now
In a resounding call for action, more than 130 of the world's most influential businesses, representing nearly $1 trillion in annual revenue, are imploring world leaders to take swift and decisive steps towards phasing out unabated fossil fuels at the upcoming COP28 Climate Summit. These corporate giants, including Volvo Cars, Vodafone, Unilever, Ikea, Nestle, and Decathlon, are sounding the alarm, emphasising that the repercussions of climate change are already impacting their operations and finances.
The call sat out in a letter convened by the We Mean Business coalition, backed by 131 companies representing just shy of $1tr in global annual revenue.
"We call on all Parties attending COP28 in Dubai to seek outcomes that will lay the groundwork to transform the global energy system towards a full phase-out of unabated fossil fuels and halve emissions this decade," the letter states. "This can be enabled by agreeing to a global target of tripling renewable electricity capacity to at least 11,000GW and doubling the rate of deployment of energy efficiency by 2030."
With the COP28 Climate Summit in Dubai mere weeks away, the chorus of voices calling for a historic commitment to phase out unabated fossil fuels is growing louder. Last year's COP27 Climate Summit omitted this critical goal from its final agreement, primarily due to opposition from oil and gas-rich nations like Saudi Arabia. However, a coalition of countries is now advocating for a more robust commitment to eliminating unabated fossil fuels, and the Summit's President-designate, Sultan Ahmed Al-Jaber, has indicated that he anticipates this issue to be central to the negotiations.
In their letter, the business leaders underscore that global emissions continue to rise, and the escalating consequences of climate change jeopardise business operations. They attribute this crisis to the failure of governments to address "the primary cause of climate change": the burning of fossil fuels.
"Our businesses are feeling the impacts and cost of increasing extreme weather events resulting from climate change," the letter notes. "We recognise the need to transition in a way that safeguards our future collective prosperity on a liveable planet. That means reducing our emissions, adopting clean solutions and reducing our use of fossil fuels to limit global heating in line with the Paris Agreement's ultimate goal of 1.5C."
The 128 businesses supporting this letter represent critical sectors essential to transitioning to a sustainable economy, spanning transportation, energy, healthcare, technology, logistics, and consumer goods. Many of these firms generated over $1 billion in revenue in 2022, including industry leaders like Acciona, Astra Zeneca, Bayer, BT Group, Diageo, Heineken, Iberdrola, JLL, Natura & Co, and Orsted.
In addition to advocating for the phase-out of unabated fossil fuels and new global targets for renewable energy and energy efficiency, the letter calls on industrialised nations to increase support for Global South countries, helping them diversify their energy systems and forge sustainable economic pathways. This includes financial assistance that does not exacerbate unsustainable sovereign debt and capacity building to enable equitable transition planning.
Furthermore, developed nations are urged to strive for 100% decarbonised power systems by 2035, with all countries following suit by 2040. The letter also champions the implementation of a "meaningful price on carbon" that accurately reflects the total costs of climate change. It emphasises the necessity of governments reforming and redirecting fossil fuel subsidies to bolster energy efficiency, renewable energy, and other technologies that facilitate a people-centred and equitable transition to clean energy.
Anders Kärrberg, global head of sustainability at Volvo Cars, said that phasing out unabated fossil fuels was "the only way forward" to limit global warming and protect people from climate catastrophe.
"But businesses cannot do this alone," he said. "Together with We Mean Business Coalition, Volvo Cars calls on all Parties attending COP28 to seek outcomes that will lay the groundwork to transform the global energy system towards a full phase-out of unabated fossil fuels."