During the United Nations Conference of Parties (COP21) climate negotiations in Paris, which occur Nov. 30 through Dec. 11, Coca-Cola Journey is publishing a series of climate-focused business articles and sharing updates of our participation in events connected to the climate negotiations.

NOTE: This is a joint post from Coca-Cola Enterprises and The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group.

We at Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE) and The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group (CLG) have been watching developments at COP21 closely. We know we are at a turning point in a global economic transition which the Paris conference can meaningfully accelerate.

​The business community has already made significant progress in understanding, reducing and reporting its impact on the climate. Members of the CLG, which brings together 23 global companies – including CCE – employ two million people in 170 countries, with combined revenues of $170 billion. These companies, have been adapting their business models and increasing their investment in low-carbon technologies over the past few years. 

To sustain and scale up this growth and the new jobs it promises, business needs an enabling policy environment. Only clarity and certainty at the national and global level will unlock the trillions of private investment required to build a new, low-carbon, climate-resilient economy. This means effective national policies based on a strong international policy framework.

So, in an ideal world, what would the Paris Climate Agreement look like?

To close the gap and meet the 2°C target, COP21 needs to put the world on a path to set and regularly strengthen climate action, and to ensure that national commitments are implemented effectively and efficiently.

Members of the CLG believe the agreement should contain three specific items:

·         A long-term global emissions goal, such as peaking emissions as soon as possible and securing net zero emissions well before the end of the century;

·         Agreement to update and improve national mitigation commitments and adaptation plans every five years;

·         Clear transparency and accounting mechanisms, so that country commitments are comparable and dependable.

The Paris conference must also ensure that business has the right fiscal environment for a low-carbon transition. Clear incentives and market signals are required to shift private investment into low-carbon, resilient infrastructure and technology. In Paris and beyond, we hope to see time-bound commitments for market mechanisms that will deliver a robust price on carbon and its flip side, an end to perverse fossil fuel subsidies.

COP 21 Bottles

But what role does the business community need to play?

At CCE, we know we can’t just sit on the sidelines. Climate change is one of the most significant material risks for our business, as well as a major challenge for society, so we’ve signed a number of the high profile Road to Paris climate commitments. We’ve also joined the RE100 initiative and will ensure that, over time, 100% of the electricity we purchase will be from renewable sources. And, significantly, our commitment to halve the carbon footprint of our core business operations by 2020 has been externally recognized as being fully aligned with the needs of climate science – one of just ten companies to achieve this recognition.

However, there’s still more that business can do and we need to learn how to work together more effectively. That is why CCE co-hosted a roundtable with the CLG this week, bringing together business leaders, academics, think tanks and policymakers in Paris to discuss the roles of government, business and civil society in delivering the transition to a low-carbon economy. We welcomed participants from the UN Global Compact, European Parliament and other industry partners for an honest discussion about the role we all need to play and how we can work better together.

The roundtable was part of CCE’s ‘Rethinking Business’ series, in partnership with the Financial Times, which convenes debate on the major challenges facing the business community. 

Ultimately, we know that agreement at COP21 will be just one aspect of the global consolidated action required to mitigate climate change. Action will be needed from national, local and regional government and businesses – acting separately and together. The voice of reason and the voice of hope must prevail both at Paris and well beyond. Because a deal that shifts emissions onto a rapid downward trajectory offers the best hope for the long-term rewiring of the global economy – and that transition is undoubtedly the best deal for business.

Sandrine Dixson-Declève is director of The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group (CLG), which brings together 23 global business leaders working to advocate solutions on climate change. 

Hubert Patricot is European president of Coca-Cola Enterprises, which manufactures and distributes Coca-Cola products in North Western Europe. He has been part of the leadership group of the Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group since 2012.

Read our entire series of COP21 articles.