Flags of member nations flying at United Nations Headquarters. 30/Dec/2005. UN Photo/Joao Araujo Pinto. www.unmultimedia.org/photo/

COP24: Business calls for strong guidelines and increased climate ambition

At COP24, the world’s governments will convene at the most important climate negotiations since the Paris Agreement was adopted in 2015. This meeting comes in the wake of the release of the IPCC Special Report Global Warming of 1.5ºC and amid increasing global political instability, as evidenced by Brazil’s presidential elections, the ousting of pro-climate action Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in Australia, and the Trump administration’s continued dismantling of US climate policy. Moreover, it will unfold in the face of extreme climate impacts across the globe, including the recent deadly California forest fires.

While the IPCC report makes it clear that we must act now to curb potentially devastating climate-related events, it also shows that achieving net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050 is both possible and necessary to achieve the Paris Agreement’s goals. In this time of urgency, businesses, governments, and other stakeholders must do this together—reinforcing ambition loops that will drive system-wide progress to reach these goals and create a resilient, just, and zero-carbon future.

Business is contributing to the stability that will help governments feel confident that they can do this. Through We Mean Business, a coalition of nonprofit organizations working with the world’s most influential businesses to take action on climate change, business helps drive policy ambition and accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy. Over 830 leading companies, representing $16.9 trillion in market capitalization, equivalent to 20 percent of global GDP, have made more than 1,350 bold climate commitments, through the coalition’s Take Action campaign.

Noting the urgency and that we must act faster and more inclusively, business is looking to policymakers to build on the progress to date and step up their ambition. Bold targets and clear timelines from governments give businesses the clarity and confidence they need to put forward even more ambitious commitments of their own, which in turn helps governments further strengthen and enhance national climate policies.


The transition from a fossil fuel economy to net-zero global GHG emissions in the second half of this century, as the Paris Agreement envisions, will require significant technological, social, and economic transformations. Companies must deliver a large share of these transformations but will only be able to do so if unions, workers, and communities are engaged and active participants.

For specific regions and sectors that will undergo a major transition, this requires initiating tripartite social dialogue with businesses and workers to secure trust and productive coordination between partners. For high-emitting sectors, this will mean integrating investment in training and skills provision into sectoral decarbonization pathways—as well as providing social security for workers moving from high-emitting jobs into low-emitting jobs—while ensuring investments and policies incentivize new, decent green jobs.


At COP24, governments should participate fully in the Talanoa Dialogue and clearly signal their intention to increase ambition by updating nationally determined contribution (NDC) targets and creating long-term strategies. This includes communicating these targets and strategies before 2020 and aiming for net-zero emissions as early as possible, with leading economies aiming to achieve this by 2050 at the latest. Governments should implement collaborative, participatory engagement processes with key stakeholders; include mechanisms to initiate periodic (e.g. every five years) upwards revisions to targets; and account for employment, education, skills-building, and social planning to ensure a just transition.


Finally, to ensure the implementation of the Paris Agreement, a strong rulebook with the following guidelines will give businesses the clarity and confidence they need to put forward even more ambitious commitments of their own.

• A global stocktake that drives ambition and considers input from stakeholders, including business;
• Common implementation periods and target years for NDCs to improve their comparability and enable businesses to more accurately calibrate decisions across a global set of NDCs;
• An enhanced transparency framework that credibly tracks progress, making it easier for business to plan their own climate strategies and goals; and
• Strong guidelines to protect the environmental integrity of carbon markets and enable the lowest-cost emissions reductions which enables business to seek out cost-effective emissions reductions.

As we look at the climate policy landscape in 2019, including to the UN Secretary General’s Climate Summit in September, and COP26 in 2020, where the next round of NDCs will be tabled, it is clear that COP24 is a key moment. We urge governments to step up their ambition and partner with business to ensure a successful COP24 that lays down the necessary foundation for a resilient, just, and zero-carbon future.


This post first appeared on, and is copyrighted to, We Mean Business.

We Mean Business is a global nonprofit coalition working with the world’s most influential businesses to take action on climate change. Together we catalyze business leadership to drive policy ambition and accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy.

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