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COP21: Business, investors see multi-billion opportunity in green economy

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08 December 2015

Corporate leaders, government representatives and international development banks leading the transition to a green economy will highlight the multi-trillion dollar business opportunities in responding to climate change at the Sustainable Innovation Forum, the largest business-focused event held during the COP21 Paris Climate Summit.

More than 750 delegates from countries all over the world will debate how businesses, financiers, cities and states, can work together to invest hundreds of billions a year in transforming energy, transport, cities and agriculture to meet global climate change targets.

The two-day event at the Stade de France, organised by Climate Action and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), aims to accelerate the development of a low-carbon, green economy by showcasing innovative technology solutions, sharing pioneering thinking, and building cross-sector partnerships.

The Sustainable Innovation Forum will be opened by Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and executive director UNEP, and Dr Hakima El Haite, minister of energy, mining, water and the environment of Morocco, which will host the 2016 COP21 UN Climate Summit in Marrakech.

More than 80 speakers will take part in the two-day programme involving multinational business leaders, entrepreneurs, government ministers from five continents, top executives from international development banks, and thought leaders from NGOs and think tanks.

''As momentum for a sustainable future grows, we are already seeing the enormous opportunities for business of an inclusive green economy. We need look no further than the power sector, where last year half of all new infrastructure investments – some $270 billion – were in renewables. The market for low-carbon technologies and innovations is not some future concept. It is thriving today, and offers huge potential for those who would capitalise on it,'' Achim Steiner said.

''Climate change not only presents the single largest threat to mankind, it also creates the greatest economic opportunity since the industrial revolution. Trillions of dollars will be spent in the next decades to develop a global green economy that creates long-term energy, food and water security and green jobs in the process,'' Nick Henry, CEO of Climate Action, said.

Technology Pioneers will showcase solutions addressing climate change problems:

CarbonWealth is announcing a breakthrough innovation - a profitable way to remove CO2 from the atmosphere, store much of it in the earth, and turn the rest into a clean fuel.

Impossible Foods will preview their Impossible Burger, which recreates the flavours, textures and nutritional value of meat but is made entirely from plants. The company aims to reduce the need for animal farming which occupies more than a third of the earth's land, uses more than a quarter of its fresh water and accounts for around 14 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions.

Autodesk will outline how its 3D software is helping to create more sustainable cities by allowing designers to simulate and visualise solutions for tackling climate change. Its analytical tools integrate greenhouse gas emissions, energy use, carbon prices and green infrastructure and have been used to create everything from cars to the world's tallest skyscraper. Autodesk software has also been used by the last 19 Best Visual Effects Oscar winning films.

BMW Group will talk about cutting emissions and partnership in climate change mitigation; its all-electric BMW i3 and the radical sustainable innovation used in its manufacture; and its DriveNow premium car-sharing service in the US, UK, Germany, Austria, Denmark and Sweden.

Country Pioneers will showcase markets demonstrating leadership and innovation:

Morocco - minister of energy, mining, water and the environment, Hakima El Haite, will outline the country's ambitions on solar leadership – with $9 billion Noor Solar Project part-funded by the European Investment Bank and World Bank, which will provide enough power for a million homes. Morocco aims to generate half its electricity from solar, hydro and wind by 2020, with huge benefits for a country which currently imports 94 per cent of its energy as fossil fuels.

Iceland - President, Ólafur Ragnar Grimsson will demonstrate the country's role as a global leader in geo-thermal clean energy, carbon reduction and green business.

United States – secretary of energy Ernest Moniz will discuss energy and low-carbon innovation with Swiss explorers Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, the pilots of the Solar Impulse plane, who will re-launch their attempt next year to fly around the world powered only by the sun, in order to demonstrate the power of renewable energy.

Investment Pioneers will showcase organisations generating finance for the transition to a green economy:

The European Investment Bank and Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) which, with four other multilateral development banks, have just announced plans to work together to substantially increase climate investments in support of the UN commitment to spend $100 billion a year by 2020 on climate action in developing countries.

Carbon Trade Exchange (CTX) is a global exchange focused on environmental markets, encouraging investment in sustainable, clean-teach and energy efficient projects around the world. It operates the world's largest spot exchange for voluntary carbon credits as well as spot exchanges in emissions, renewable energy and water.

The Carbon Tracker Initiative supports the transition to a low-carbon economy by providing investors, markets and policymakers with analysis to recognise the risks that climate action could make huge reserves of oil, coal and gas stranded assets. Its new report reveals that fossil fuel companies risk wasting up to $2.2 trillion by 2025 by pursuing business as usual strategies.

Scale and the limits
The Global Commission on the Economy and Climate (GCEC) has highlighted the scale of opportunity in the green economy, calling for at least $1 trillion to be invested each year in clean energy alone.

Felipe Calderon, chair of the GCEC, and former President of Mexico, will deliver the closing keynote speech on the first day.

''Around $90 trillion will need to be invested globally in cities, land use and energy infrastructure between now and 2030 to meet global growth and development objectives. It would cost as little as around 5% more to make those investment choices low-carbon, and fuel savings alone could offset the higher investments. If we make the right choices and take the right actions now, these investments can drive the achievement of climate and development goals together,'' according to GCEC.

The conference will also discuss how to overcome barriers to the growth of the green economy:

  • How business can encourage governments to set robust national policies which give investors the confidence to fund low-carbon activities;
  • Regulatory frameworks needed to switch billions of capital markets funding from high-carbon to low-carbon activities, for example by recognising the risk from stranded fossil fuel assets and by switching subsidies from fossil fuel production and consumption to renewables; and
  • Accelerating low-carbon innovation by providing incentives that will encourage private investors to back emerging technologies and promising start-ups.

''Business has a critical role to play in the climate change agenda, by providing the innovation and finance necessary to facilitate the transition to a low carbon economy and influencing consumer behaviour. But it needs clear public policy'', said Nick Henry, CEO of Climate Action.

''Business will be pushing governments to take action at Paris and provide a policy framework. Clarity on issues such as carbon pricing, support for low carbon energy and how supply chains are sourced will give business greater certainty to invest in the green economy.''

French President François Hollande, hosting the summit, said: ''COP21 will result in a 'transformation of the world – in which business must play a central role as they are the drivers of innovating change across all sectors.''

Sustainable Innovation Forum is an annual event organised by Climate Action and UNEP. Established in 2007 and headquartered in London, UK, Climate Action has, for the last eight years, worked in a unique, contractual partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) – the world's foremost body on environmental protection and stewardship.





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