At the U.N. General Assembly Week in New York last week, I asked Lise Kingo, CEO of the U.N. Global Compact, on her reaction to the climate crisis and if any repercussions had since come from the United States pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord back in June 2017. Should we despair and how should business react?
In 2017, the U.S withdrew from the Paris Climate Accord. Has all the hard work regarding climate action been undone?
We are disappointed by the decision of the United States to leave the Paris Agreement, which is a historic global accord to combat climate change and protect our planet for future generations. But, despite this setback, there is also cause for optimism. The Paris Agreement has activated an unstoppable momentum for climate action, with an essential role spelled out for responsible business.
At the United Nations Global Compact, we have built a coalition of businesses taking action on climate and we are seeing private sector engagement on climate change grow exponentially across the board, with businesses everywhere committing to a suite of effective policies including pricing carbon and setting science-based targets.
Has business yet realized the value of the Sustainable Goals, especially climate change, and how addressing it might benefit their balance sheets?
Investors are increasingly demanding climate information, while consumers are demonstrating a willingness to pay a premium for environmentally-friendly products. There is a clear and growing market opportunity for climate compatible products, services and investments.
In the case of an absence by a Member State to take climate action, sub-national governments can continue to support the shift to a green, resilient economy. Individual states and cities can lead the charge and advance the goals of the Paris Agreement in the service of the health and economic prosperity of their constituents.
How will the U.N. Global Compact continue to raise awareness around climate issues, despite the world’s most powerful country deciding otherwise?
We believe that what was discussed in Paris in 2017 sends the right market signals to provide predictability, unlock capital, drive innovation and reward responsible companies. The UN Global Compact is committed to working with businesses large and small to mainstream today’s leadership standards on climate and we will continue to challenge companies to go further in transforming their business models and adopting policies that reduce their emissions and transition to a sustainable future.
Though setbacks may try to impede climate progress, we will push onwards in the spirit of solidarity and unity that first brought the world together in support of the Paris Agreement. The business community can and must rise to meet the climate change challenge. Together with Governments and civil society, the UN Global Compact stands ready to mobilize a global movement of responsible companies and stakeholders to create the world we want.