Today, the Paris Agreement enters into force


04 November, 2016


Insights from the CEO



Peter Bakker

“What was once unthinkable is now unstoppable” UN Secretary-General ban Ki-moon

Nearly one year ago, many didn’t even think an agreement was possible. And yet it’s going into effect faster than many ever imagined. By comparison, it took the historic Kyoto Protocol seven years to reach this point, and many experts thought it was optimistic to believe the Paris Agreement would enter into force before 2020.

Since Paris, world leaders from every major economy – including the world’s top emitters, China and the US – have sent a clear signal that transition to the low carbon economy is, in fact, unstoppable.

In the words of our Chairman Paul Polman, the speed at which the agreement was adopted and ratified illustrates that “the low carbon economy is urgent, inevitable and accelerating faster than we ever believed possible.”

And it’s true.

Global enthusiasm for unanimously adopting and ratifying this historical agreement is undeniable evidence that the political will for addressing climate change is increasing.

This is a great milestone, but the real test comes next.

The ultimate success of the Agreement will depend on countries’ abilities to strengthen, meet and exceed their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), and we as businesses should not minimize our role in pushing government to go further.

Consider the effect business had on pushing for the Paris Agreement to begin with.

The Low Carbon Technology Partnerships Initiative has proven to governments around the world that business is ready and willing to deliver on climate action. In fact, LCTPi commitments from over 150 companies and 70 partners could deliver 65% of the emissions reductions necessary for remaining on a 2°C pathway.

The wider business community has also stepped up. Over 1,000 commitments made by 471 companies within We Mean Business show that business is serious – their rallying cry is a strong and resounding “We mean it.”

Recent research report, “Business End of Climate Change,” shows that if all relevant companies signed up for initiatives like LCTPi, we could eventually drive down emissions by 10 billion tons per year – that’s more than China pumps out annually.

We owe it to ourselves and to future generations to continue working towards these goals and to deliver on the promises we made in Paris. What we need now is to make the right choice the easier choice for business.

Doing so will help give global leaders confidence to strengthen their international commitments.

Today is not a day to rest. Our work is just beginning.

Many of you understand that the current Agreement does not yet go far enough. NDCs are still not, on their own, enough to limit global warming to the universally accepted 2°C – let alone 1.5°C.

It’s up to businesses to give policymakers the confidence to ramp up their climate targets. Hence, the Low Emissions Solutions Conference.

Later this month during COP22, at the first ever large-scale tech solutions conference held for country delegations, 500 technology experts will connect with country representatives to showcase their low-carbon solutions, helping encourage countries to strengthen their climate commitments.

We are proud to be co-organizing the event with the Government of Morocco, the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and the ICLEI-Local Government for Sustainability (ICLEI) as we work to represent the voice of business in the next phase of the Paris Agreement: large scale implementation. We encourage you to join us.

Your work, and the work of many forward thinking and dedicated individuals over the past decades has brought us to this point.

Now, the real challenge begins – it’s going to get a lot more exciting, and a lot more intense.

We are ready for the challenge. Keep up the good work.