Sustainability Roundup – December 2015 – Special COP21 & Business Edition

December 14, 2015
By Adriana Salazar

Last Friday, on the last official day of COP21, we heard Nick Nuttall (spokesperson for the UNFCCC) announce that negotiations would continue into Saturday to reach the best possible deal, and just the night before, Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, anticipated that the latest draft outcome text pointed towards ‘an ambitious agreement’.

Today, the technical success of the Paris deal is set in stone: Agreed by consensus of the participating 196 countries, the agreement aims to ‘strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change’ by, inter alia, ‘holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels’.

Recognizing this historic agreement, December’s sustainability roundup (part II to last month’s first ‘COP21 Special Edition’), recaps 10 recent sustainability and CSR articles focusing on the climate path for business after COP21:

1. Paris Agreement, 21st Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC

Now that negotiations have closed, the story of business in the post-COP21 landscape (and the future of our planet) cannot be told without making reference to the final outcome document of the Paris negotiations.

To access the full text, click here.

2. COP21: What does it mean for busines? (KPMG)

For an overview of the potential outcomes of COP21 and their implications on business, this briefing, produced by KPMG in the lead-up to the conference, provides some insight into the risks (such as stronger reporting requirements and increased shareholder scrutiny) and opportunities (i.e. increased climate funding) that will necessarily go hand-in-hand with the formalization of national carbon-reduction commitments resulting from the agreement:

To access the full report click here.

3. Climate funding: Source of business growth and opportunity

The increased influx of available climate funding is one of the major business opportunities to come from COP21. On December 10 numerous public announcements were made on this critical point and the UNFCCC released an interactive graphic showing the essential details of each.

The European Commission, for instance, announced its intention to more than double climate finance grants from the EU budget up to 2020, reaching EUR 2 billion per year on average.


To access the interactive graphic, click here.

4. To date, 1000+ corporations have signed Ceres-led ‘Climate Declaration’

Business leaders are increasingly seeking to publicly formalize their commitments and taking steps to seize the economic opportunity in tackling climate change.

Drafted by the Ceres-led ‘Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy’ (BICEP) the importance of the ‘Climate Declaration’ was highlighted by California Governor Jerry Brown during the COP. Recognizing that ‘Tackling climate change is one of America’s greatest economic opportunities of the 21st Century’, the initiative was launched in 2013 with 33 founding signatories. To date, it has been signed by 1000+ corporations, including big players like Ebay, Nike, Unilever, Ikea, Nestlé and Apple.

To access the full Declaration, click here.

5. Do you know your operational risks from climate change?

Climate change has direct impacts on business operations and the way companies track and measure operational risks. Executives and board members need to be aware of operational risks affecting their businesses that are directly linked to climate change.

To access the full article, click here.

6. Bending the curve on climate change while enhancing human rights

From BSR’s blog (and celebrating International Human Rights day on Dec 10), comes this insightful piece focusing on the role of the private sector and existing technologies in reducing ‘short-lived climate pollutants’ (hydrofluorocarbons, methane, black carbon and tropospheric ozone), which are at the root of 45% of total global warming and contribute to 7 million deaths a year through air pollution.

Closing in on the oil and gas sector, this quote from Statoil CEO Eldar Sætre sums up the changing winds in the industry: “We will take an active role in shaping the future of energy, nothing less. We need to embrace low-carbon solutions as a business opportunity rather than as a threat to our industry.”

To access the full article, click here.

7. BSR COP21 Report: Expectations and how business can act

This mid-COP21 interview with BSR Managing Director of Partnership Development and Research sums up some key points on ‘what businesses should do the day after COP21’:

  • ‘The Paris Agreement will confirm and solidify the 184 national climate action plans that have been put forward. Those alone are going to change the way business understands climate risk and the regulatory environment. For smart businesses, it’s going to open up substantial economic opportunities’.
  • ‘COP21 is the beginning of the transformation to a low-carbon economy, and after COP, companies should prepare to go further, faster on their climate commitments’.
  • Company leaders should prepare to advocate for climate action domestically (…). After COP, the conversation is going to move to domestic venues, including China’s 13th five-year plan’.

To access the full article, click here.

8. COP21: A catalyst to move beyond sustainability reporting

As one of the main architects of ‘the world’s non-financial information’, the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), offers a glimpse into the changing face of sustainability reporting and the implications of COP21:

Climate change involves business risks and opportunities beyond carbon and energy, including human rights, resource constraints, biodiversity and many others. As the world’s focus turns to (…) the need for a crucial international binding agreement on climate change, we’re looking ahead to the developments in sustainability reporting which will enable businesses across the world to take action’.

To access the full article, click here.

9. Inside the ‘snug bubble’ of COP21, empty seats and talk of inclusion

Highlighting the importance of current and future integrated action between business and civil society, this Greenbiz article takes a look at the need for collaboration and more obvious and beneficial pathways to participation:

Whether privileged by position or limited public access, a relatively tiny yet activated core of COP21 attendees is charged with spreading their climate change insights to spur cultural change. What are the best methods for bridging the information gap in order for insiders to engage more people in climate action?’

To access the full article, click here.

10. Sustainability sells

As a good reminder that sustainability pays off, this Nielsen infographic sums up what 30,000 surveyed consumers had to say about their beliefs and habits around buying sustainably made products:


To access the full article, click here.

If you’re interested in learning more about what COP21 means for business, we recently held an exclusive Webinar in partnership with Greenbiz: Why Tackling Climate Change is Good for Business.

Among other topics, the webinar looked into how climate change is impacting business, how businesses can transform the constraints of climate change into a source of growth and opportunity, and how corporations can drive positive change through the right climate change mitigation strategies. You can access a free recording of the webinar below:

View Webinar Recording Now!