Paris, France

08 December 2015

Secretary-General's remarks at meeting of at UN Global Compact Caring for Climate Business Forum

Your Excellency M. Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development of France and President of COP21, Your Excellency Mr. John Kerry, Secretary of State of the United States, Excellencies, Distinguished business leaders, Ladies and gentlemen,

I am pleased to be with you. 

I thank the United Nations Global Compact for its leadership. 

The collective momentum among the private sector for climate action is growing daily.

Across the world, businesses and investors are standing up for a strong agreement in Paris that sends the right market signals.

They are asking for a clear message that the transition to cleaner, low emissions energy sources is necessary, inevitable, irreversible and beneficial.

We must make clear that there is no turning back, and that all parts of society – CEOs, cities and citizens – must be part of the solution.

Just over a year ago at my Climate Summit in New York, I called on business to make their voices heard and to demonstrate that green business is good business.

Companies from around the globe have responded.

Leading companies are showing that they can address climate change and thrive financially.

More companies and investors are leading on climate action than at any time in history.

They are doing so because they understand the risks of climate change, and the opportunities inherent in addressing it.

They see the potential for creating growth, jobs and prosperity in a low-emissions economy.

Companies are banding together in collaborative initiatives such as those represented here today.

We have seen the power of collaboration first-hand through our UN Caring for Climate initiative.

This is now the largest coalition of businesses actively engaging on climate.

I thank those here who are participants and partners, and urge more companies to join in this global leadership effort.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today we are here to share progress made by leading businesses in important areas and to establish even greater ambition for the future.

One hundred companies are setting ambitious emissions reduction targets through the science-based targets initiative.

And 100 companies have publicly committed to more responsible engagement with policy makers.

This is an essential yet too often unspoken area.

It is time for business to be more transparent, accountable and responsible by working individually and through trade associations to support – and not block – climate policy.

On carbon pricing, companies have been instrumental in ensuring that a price on carbon is recognized as a necessary and effective tool.

This will send a signal to private investors and governments that renewable energy and low-emissions projects are feasible and profitable.

According to the Carbon Disclosure Project, more than 1,000 companies now say that they have set an internal price or plan to in the future.

This compares to just over 100 companies a year ago -- nearly a ten-fold increase.

And since I launched our Business Leadership Criteria on Carbon Pricing last year at the Climate Summit, 65 companies have taken on the triple challenge of setting an internal carbon price, reporting publicly, and calling for carbon markets.

Many of you are here today.

I commend your bold leadership.

The tide is turning.

Taking action on climate change is providing a gateway to growth and innovation.

Pragmatic companies are moving ahead to sustain their bottom line for the long-run.

Investors are decarbonizing their portfolios.

Carbon markets are beginning to link up among cities and global regions. 

In the past year alone, over 2,000 companies and 500 investors have registered climate commitments through the UNFCCC NAZCA portal.

This is a litmus test for the enormous momentum underway.

But to limit global temperature rise to less than 2 degrees we must go much further and faster.

Only a fraction of companies globally are committed.

We need 100 per cent participation from the business community.

The case is clear.

Nearly all CEOs of companies large and small recently surveyed by the UN Global Compact see climate change as an urgent priority.

But, at the same time, just one-third believe that business is actually doing enough to address the issue.

It is time for companies everywhere to bring sustainability in from the side-lines and incorporate it into the mainstream of their operations.

Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,

You are here today to show the world that green business is good business, and to convey the support of responsible businesses for a strong, universal climate agreement.

This is a critically important time as we look to secure a safer, healthier future for people and planet.

In September, world leaders adopted the Sustainable Development Goals, giving us a roadmap to end extreme poverty, reduce inequality and protect the environment.

A successful agreement in Paris will be a tremendous catalyst for the success of the sustainable development agenda.

The Sustainable Development Goals and this Paris climate conference are two milestones that can and must guide sustainable business action for decades to come.

As you leave Paris, I hope you carry with you a clear message to your consumers, employees, peers – and Governments – that how we do business today will determine if we can do business in the future.

Your commitment, leadership and partnership are needed more than ever.

Thank you.