Global Compact press release (New York, 14 November 2013) – For the first time ever, companies have a guide to manage and report on their direct and indirect influences on climate policy. The UN Global Compact, in cooperation with seven leading international organizations, today released guidelines to help companies engage in climate policy in a transparent and accountable way that is consistent with their sustainability commitments.

The Guide to Responsible Corporate Engagement in Climate Policy sets baseline expectations for companies to provide proactive, constructive input for Governments to create effective climate policies. It helps companies to connect the dots between sustainability commitments, such as emissions reductions across their value chains and efficiency improvements, with their corporate policy positions.

There is a mixed record on public policy engagement. In a recent survey of UN Global Compact companies, only 30 percent have aligned their traditional government affairs activities with their corporate responsibility commitments, such as taking action on climate change.

The report comes as the role of business in policymaking receives increased attention and negotiators meet at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP19) in Warsaw, Poland, in order to guide progressive businesses to lobby in favor of a global, legal climate agreement by 2015. Businesses and investors are also becoming more aware of the risks of climate change, and want clear and consistent climate policies in place to create a productive operating environment.

To address calls for alignment by business, investors and other stakeholders, the guide establishes the core elements of responsible corporate engagement and translates that into three practical actions for companies to provide a constructive and positive voice on climate policy:

Identify the company’s opportunity and legitimacy by creating an inventory of its influences on climate policy;
Align its positions and influences to ensure consistency and accountability; andReport on climate change policy influences, intentions and outcomes using a three-tiered framework for transparency. “Engagement by the private sector that is collaborative, serious and solutions-oriented is vital, and can help ensure widespread support for sustainability, climate action and broader UN goals. With leading technological and social innovations already in place, there is enormous potential to produce results if greater scale is achieved,” said UN Global Compact Executive Director Georg Kell. “The time is ripe for enlightened business leaders to scale up corporate sustainability by engaging responsibly on climate policy, ultimately helping to drive energy efficiency, renewables and technology in a low-carbon economy.”

The business case for companies to engage responsibly in climate policy has strengthened as companies are increasingly asked to track and report their policy positions. Responsible corporate engagement can help a company to execute on its corporate strategy; create trusted relationships with Government and generate regulatory certainty; enhance shareholder value; build and sustain public and stakeholder trust; and promote policies that protect against impacts from climate change.

“When it comes to climate policy, many leading businesses are struggling to match their words and their actions. This report finds that seven of 10 businesses have not fully aligned their sustainability goals with government affairs practices,” said Andrew Steer, President and CEO, World Resources Institute. “Those businesses that are serious about addressing climate change will follow the actions in this guide.”

The Guide to Responsible Corporate Engagement in Climate Policy is the result of research and interviews with more than 75 business and policy leaders from more than 60 organizations across 20 countries. It will be highlighted at a special session of the inaugural Caring for Climate Business Forum during COP19, on 19 November in Warsaw.

 

Media Contacts

UN Global Compact
Kristen Coco, Public Affairs and Media Relations
cocok@un.org
+1 917-367-8566, +1 917-288-0787

World Resources Institute
Lauren Zelin, Senior Media Officer
LZelin@wri.org
+1 202.729.7736

UNFCCC
John Hay, UNFCCC Media Relations Officer
jhay@unfccc.int or press@unfccc.int
+49-228 815-1404

UNEP
Fanina Kodre-Alexander
fanina.kodre@unep.org
+254 723 857463

CDP
Penny Cross, Director of Communications
Penny.Cross@cdp.net

WWF
Mandy Woods, Head of Comms & Marketing: Global
Climate & Energy Initiative
mwoods@wwf.org.za

Ceres
Peyton Fleming, Communications Director
fleming@ceres.org

The Climate Group
Nicholas Mandalas, International Media Manager
NMandalas@theclimategroup.org

 

Annex of available quotes

“Governments have provided a policy signal and are working on further clarity. But the private sector need not wait for policy perfection. Business leaders can demonstrate and communicate the need for long-term energy plans, increased efficiency and climate-friendly investment—policies beneficial to the triple bottom line. This in turn, gives governments the support they need to act on the international stage.”

Christiana Figueres , Executive Secretary, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

“Environmental change is accelerating and generating new and emerging challenges but also opportunities for business. Companies that face up to these realities are likely to be the ones that survive and indeed thrive in a rapidly evolving world where factors such as climate change and dwindling availability of natural resources will shape future patterns of profit and loss while driving new and smarter markets.”

Achim Steiner, Executive Director, United Nations Environment Programme;
Under-Secretary-General, United Nations

“In the past, efforts by some corporations have significantly slowed the emergence of climate change legislation and this has created unacceptable risks to public safety in general, as well as fiduciary investors in particular. All investors need to understand the risk posed to their whole portfolios by irresponsible corporate engagement seeking to delay climate policy, and the value created by a responsible, pro-climate business voice in helping policy makers deliver on their responsibilities to protect citizens. With the date for agreement on a global climate deal set for 2015, this report shows how businesses can play a positive role in helping politicians and civil society deliver a robust, necessary outcome over the next two years.”

Paul Simpson, Chief Executive Officer, CDP

“Addressing climate change, stopping deforestation and building a sustainable future powered by 100% renewable energy has never been more urgent. We applaud companies acting according to climate science and pushing policy-makers to take forceful action on this major planetary risk. WWF supports the guidelines from this broad partnership, which require companies to make sure their lobbying is aligned with what scientists tell us must be done, and asks corporate leaders to get trade associations to move from defending the fossil fuel status quo to calling for climate action and a sustainable future for people and planet alike.”

James Leape, Director General, WWF International

“While some are holding fast to old models of doing business, true leaders of 21st century companies are charting a new course toward a clean energy economy. They see the risks, the opportunities, and the need for policy action. By following the best practices set forth in this report, responsible businesses will model effective participation in the democratic process and help to inform meaningful climate policy.”

Mindy S. Lubber, President and Chief Executive Officer, Ceres

”With public scrutiny – and distrust – of the corporate world more intense than ever before, businesses need to follow their words on climate with initiatives that affect real, tangible, measurable change, and engage in policy debates in a manner that is ethical, consistent and transparent. Climate leadership is not some sort of “moral” imperative: it entails real business benefits and the avoidance of real business risks. Active, responsible and transparent engagement in supporting policies consistent with imperatives of climate science lies at the heart of this leadership: this report provides a tool to guide such engagement.”

Mark Kenber, CEO, The Climate Group

 

What others are saying about the guide

“Engaging responsibly on climate change policy is part of being a modern business.”

Steve Howard, Chief Sustainability Officer, Ikea

“Many companies that have engaged on climate policy in the past have tried to block it and their actions are often hidden from public view, so it’s refreshing to see a path forward for companies looking to engage constructively and transparently on climate change issues.”

Gretchen Goldman, Analyst, Center for Science and Democracy, Union of Concerned Scientists

“As the first Chinese company and the first renewable energy manufacturer to join WWF’s Climate Savers Program, we are pleased to hear about the launch of this report. This report is not only a useful guidance, but also an essential requirement for responsible companies to engage in climate policy. With our commitments to corporate social responsibility, environmental protection and sustainable development, Yingli looks forward to continuously collaborate with leading institutions and progressive businesses in the fight against climate change.”

Liansheng Miao, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Yingli Green Energy

 

About the UN Global Compact

Launched in 2000, the United Nations Global Compact is both a policy platform and a practical framework for companies that are committed to sustainability and responsible business practices. As a multi-stakeholder leadership initiative, it seeks to align business operations and strategies with ten universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption and to catalyze actions in support of broader UN goals. With more than 8,000 corporate participants in 145 countries, it is the world’s largest voluntary corporate sustainability initiative.

About UNFCCC

With 195 Parties, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has near universal membership and is the parent treaty of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol has been ratified by 192 of the UNFCCC Parties. For the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, 37 States, consisting of highly industrialized countries and countries undergoing the process of transition to a market economy, have legally binding emission limitation and reduction commitments. In Doha in 2012, the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol adopted an amendment to the Kyoto Protocol, which establishes the second commitment period under the Protocol. The ultimate objective of both treaties is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that will prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system. www.unfccc.int

About United Nations Environment Programme

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), established in 1972, is the voice for the environment within the United Nations system. UNEP acts as a catalyst, advocate, educator and facilitator to promote the wise use and sustainable development of the global environment. To accomplish this, UNEP works with a wide range of partners, including United Nations entities, international organizations, national governments, non-governmental organizations, the private sector and civil society. www.unep.org

About World Resources Institute

WRI is a global research organization that spans more than 50 countries, with offices in the United States, China, India, Brazil, and more. Our more than 300 experts and staff work closely with leaders to turn big ideas into action to sustain our natural resources—the foundation of economic opportunity and human well-being. www.wri.org

About CDP

CDP is an international, not-for-profit organization providing the only global system for companies and cities to measure, disclose, manage and share vital environmental information. CDP works with market forces, including 722 institutional investors with assets of US$87 trillion, to motivate companies to disclose their impacts on the environment and natural resources and take action to reduce them. CDP now holds the largest collection globally of primary climate change, water and forest risk commodities information and puts these insights at the heart of strategic business, investment and policy decisions. www.cdproject.net

About WWF

The mission of the WWF, one of the world’s largest independent conservation organisations, is to stop the degradation of the planet’s natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature. Through its Global Climate and Energy Initiative, WWF aims to address climate change by engaging with business, promoting renewable and sustainable energy, scaling green finance and working nationally and internationally on low carbon frameworks. www.wwf.panda.org

About Ceres

Ceres is a nonprofit organization mobilizing business and investor leadership on climate change, water scarcity and other sustainability challenges. Ceres directs the Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR), a network of over 100 institutional investors with collective assets totaling more than $12 trillion. Ceres also directs Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy (BICEP), an advocacy coalition of nearly 30 businesses committed to working with policy makers to pass meaningful energy and climate legislation. www.ceres.org

About The Climate Group

The Climate group is an independent, not-for-profit organization working to inspire and catalyze leadership for a Clean revolution: a low carbon future that is smarter, better and more prosperous. For all. Founded in 2004, The Climate Group has operations in China (Beijing and Hong Kong), Europe, India and North America. www.theclimategroup.org

About Caring for Climate

Launched by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in 2007, “Caring for Climate” is the UN Global Compact, the secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) initiative aimed at advancing the role of business in addressing climate change. It provides a framework for business leaders to advance practical solutions and help shape public policy as well as public attitudes. Chief executive officers who support the statement are prepared to set goals, develop and expand strategies and practices, and to publicly disclose emissions as part of their existing disclosure commitment within the UN Global Compact framework, that is, the Communication on Progress. Caring for Climate is endorsed by over 350 companies from 50 countries. www.caringforclimate.org, www.c4cbusinessforum.org