Global businesses want a louder voice at the upcoming UN climate change talks, according to a new survey across 14 nations.
The polling revealed that large businesses are increasingly losing confidence in the world’s ability to limit global warming below the Paris Agreement’s 1.5C threshold proposals.
The researchers interviewed the top 100 revenue-ranked corporates across 14 countries worldwide, including the UK, US, Brazil, Germany, France, UAE, Saudi Arabia and Singapore. Carried out by financial research firm East & Partners together with communications consultancy Impact & Influence, it is based on more than 1,300 online interviews conducted in March.
Published just six months ahead of the COP28 Climate Summit in Dubai, the data reveals that companies want greater representation at UN talks, with widespread concern about the ability of the world to deliver on agreed global climate goals.
The new report notes that companies quizzed for the research increasingly feel “sidelined” in annual UN climate talks, and that some global markets have already “priced-in” the 1.5C limit being exceeded.
More than half of the 1,300 business figures interviewed said they wanted a “stronger voice” in drawing up measures to tackle climate change, in particular by having stronger representation at the UN’s annual climate summits, the research found.
Responding to the news, ClimateTech expert Laimonas Noreika, founder of HeavyFinance said: “The climate change emergency requires a concerted effort from all industries and cannot be left to policymakers alone. Businesses can and should play a proactive role in making COP28 a success, by providing valuable insights and practical recommendations to limit global warming and take meaningful action for the long term. The reality is that most businesses wish to do much more to improve their environmental credentials, yet many lack the access to the financial support to do so.
Noreika continued, “By unlocking financial solutions to support sustainability, businesses of all sizes can do their part in tackling this crisis.”
It comes just weeks after the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) warned the global average temperature is likely to breach 1.5C by 2027, albeit only temporarily. Should average temperatures rise above this critical threshold on a permanent basis, it would lead to dangerous and irreversible consequences, climate scientists have warned.
“This research – the first of its kind – reveals businesses want a seat at the table at COP28 to put their shoulder to the wheel to solve the escalating climate crisis,” said Paul Dowling, co-founder and principal analyst at East & Partners. “At the moment, business leaders feel side-lined in the climate discussions.”
Campaigning organisations have criticised the increasing corporate presence at UN climate negotiations, such as high profile sponsorship at COP summits for major companies with high carbon footprints.
Dowling, however, argued businesses should be given a larger role at COP28, given their huge financial and entrepreneurial influence that can be brought to bear on the transition to a net zero economy.
“This year’s COP28 organisers would be wise to bring them to the table, not only to boost confidence in the process but also to harness the immense resources and innovation that the private sector can bring to the fight against climate change,” he said. “Collaborative efforts between governments and businesses are essential for achieving our global climate goals – not least keeping 1.5C alive.”
Other climate priorities highlighted by businesses in the research included climate finance reform, green innovation and technology, biodiversity and inclusion, according to the researchers.
Rishi Bhattacharya, CEO and founder of Impact & Influence, expressed his concern about the research findings.
“It’s alarming that ‘Keeping 1.5C Alive’ ranks so low among global corporates just two years after COP26,” he said. “This suggests they may be pricing in an overshoot. It is more important than ever to communicate the need for business to be part of the solution. With COP28 in Dubai approaching, ensuring business involvement in the climate conversation is more crucial than ever, as their participation increases the likelihood of success in addressing climate change.”