Climate, European companies put pressure on governments

Published on Thursday, 24 October 2019

It used to be the practice for governments to impose environmental legislation on the manufacturing sector, but now companies have taken on the role of promoting sustainability by asking public bodies to do more for the planet.

That, in a nutshell, is the purpose of a letter addressed to EU heads of state and government drafted by The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group (CLG), an organisation founded with the purpose of promoting a business model that is compatible with safeguarding the climate. The document was also signed by Enel CEO Francesco Starace, together with fifty or so other CEOs and presidents of large companies, including IKEA and Unilever, and organisations such as the Finnish Industrial Federation and the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust.

The letter asks the EU countries to support a long-term strategy to achieve a carbon neutral system by 2050 in other words, a zero net balance in greenhouse gas emissions. “Pursuing this aim sets out a new economic direction for Europe,” the letter states.

In the same vein, Starace comments that “tackling the climate emergency is possible. We can reshape our energy systems, while promoting business growth and economic development for all. Europe needs a powerful, socially inclusive agenda for net-zero emissions by 2050 and Enel stands ready to support such commitment.”

This pledge, however, is not only motivated by environmental factors. On the one hand, the CLG points out that the effects of climate change are causing serious damage in Europe – last year’s heat wave alone caused losses of almost 8 billion euros in the agricultural sector and water supply crises in many areas. While on the other, renewable energy sources are becoming advantageous in further ways. The report entitled “A clean planet for all” compiled for the EU Commission predicts that a zero-emission economy will, in fact, generate a 2% increase in GDP and employment growth.

Europe has always been on the front line in the fight against the climate emergency, and has the scientific and economic means to achieve the goals set out in the Paris Agreement. What’s needed is the will to use these means – companies could act as drivers but we also need a powerful thrust on a political level. In the words of the letter’s signatories, “Europe led the most recent industrial revolution, and we are convinced it must lead the next”: the sustainability revolution.