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Leading companies call for sharper EU carbon cuts

15 June 2011

Over 70 European companies have signed up to a declaration calling on the European Union to increase its climate ambition and move to a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2020 from 1990 levels.

The call comes ahead of the EU Environment Council (21 June) and the European Parliament’s vote on moving beyond the existing 20% target (23 June). The businesses call on the EU to adopt a 30% emissions reduction target to preserve the European Union’s competitiveness, and build a low-carbon economy.

Together the signatories of the call account for more than 3.8 million employees with an annual turnover of more than €1 trillion, a sum bigger than the combined GDPs of Poland, Sweden and Austria. The number of signatories to the declaration has more than doubled in recent months, highlighting the urgent need for policy makers to commit to the higher target.

The companies are calling for a European policy framework that will spur innovation and investment, notably in renewables and energy efficiency, to ensure European energy security. Research shows that by increasing the target, imports of oil and gas could be reduced by €45.5 billion in 2020[1], and energy efficiency and renewable energy sources could decrease the economy’s import dependency and vulnerability to fossil fuel prices even further – the reduction in the oil and gas import bill could amount to €600 billion or more per annum by 2050[2].

Funding this scale of investment could come from the policy instruments behind Europe’s climate targets, like auctioning revenues from the EU’s Emission Trading Scheme: it is estimated that stronger clean energy policies could help increase the EU’s cumulative investments by 20% between 2010 and 2020[3].

The 72 signatories also say that an increased climate ambition will contribute to the creation of new green jobs, both directly and indirectly. Overall, a stronger policy framework could result in a net increase of 6 million European jobs by 2020[4].

Keith Allott, Head of Climate Change at WWF-UK, says: “Politicians across Europe must listen to this clear message from forward thinking businesses, who know that a stronger policy framework will be in their interest because of the investments and opportunities it can unlock.

“Sticking with the current EU 20% target would simply perpetuate a cycle of low ambition that will inevitably lead to dangerous climate change. The 30% target is a no-regrets position for Europe’s economy, and it is logical to move to it now.”

Luc Bas, Director European Programs, The Climate Group, says: "Signatories to this declaration are part of a growing business community convinced that a 30% target can lead to the market transformation needed to ensure Europe's position as a global leader in a low carbon future. Now, more than ever, businesses realize that a clean industrial revolution is the only way forward for sustainable growth and job creation in Europe and the world".

Sandrine Dixson-Declève, EU Director, The Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership says: “This declaration underscores what real business leaders have been saying repeatedly that low-carbon growth stimulated by greater climate policy ambition from the EU is not only feasible, but is a driver of economic recovery and the best foundation for future prosperity in Europe.

“Business leaders working with us are convinced that more ambitious short and medium term targets are essential to help drive up the carbon price and incentivize the low carbon investments needed to both reach the EU’s climate goals and exit the recession.”

Corporate voices of support:

Richard Gillies, Director of Plan A, Sustainable Business and CSR at Marks & Spencer says: “The green economy will only succeed if governments, law makers and regulators play their part and create a climate where innovation and investment can thrive. Through our eco and ethical programme, Plan A, we have ambitious targets to cut our carbon emissions and become a carbon neutral business by 2012. We have signed the declaration to call on the EU to do the same and set itself bold and stretching targets.”

Dr Paul Toyne, Group Head of Sustainability, WSP Group says: “As a leading design, engineering and environmental consultancy WSP recognizes its role in delivering affordable low carbon solutions to our clients in the European Union. For our clients to act they need either incentives or tougher goals. Setting ambitious targets allows industry to provide the solutions through investment and innovation, resulting in green growth. The majority of WSP’s clients are involved in construction, and with over 40% of carbon emissions coming from the built environment in the UK alone, we believe we can make a real contribution towards the 30% EU reduction target.”

James Wallace, RSA Group Head of Corporate Responsibility, says: "At RSA we believe the case for sustainable alternatives to our current dependence on fossil fuels is clear and there is no doubt that renewable energy will play a key part in the global fight against climate change. The cost of developing a solar or wind farm is substantial but with the right financial structures in place the economic case can be compelling and will become even more so, as costs fall with technology improvements and economies of scale. We need governments to provide competitive and lasting financial incentives for renewable energy developments to give investors the confidence to invest in the long term."

Peter Bragg, Head of Environment and Energy, Eurostar, says: “A move beyond 20% would send out a strong statement of intent from the EU that it wants to base its future success on the foundations of a low carbon economy. From Eurostar’s point of view it would underline our own vision to 'Tread Lightly' and reduce emissions across our organisation, a vision which underpins our business ambitions.”

Mikael Ohlsson, CEO and President, IKEA Group, says: "At IKEA we are committed to a long term strategy where all IKEA Group stores and buildings will be supplied with 100% renewable energy and we will improve our overall energy efficiency by 25 percent compared with 2005. We drive renewable energy and energy efficiency in all aspects of our business and see opportunities together with our customers to be more energy efficient in every home. Clear and strong EU policies and goals are necessary to enable clean evolution and innovation together with businesses and citizens. The EU needs to play a leading role in tomorrow’s society."

Gavin Neath, Senior VP, Communications & Sustainability of Unilever says: “Sustainability and growth are not mutually exclusive. Some companies have strategies which seek to decouple their business growth from their environmental impacts. Unilever is one such company. Its recently launched Sustainable Living Plan has stretching goals to reduce its Greenhouse Gas emissions by halving the environmental footprint of its products and by sourcing 100% of its agricultural raw materials sustainably. To be successful Unilever needs governments to deliver their side of the bargain. For example Unilever will never be able to halve the Greenhouse Gas impacts of its shampoos and shower products unless governments decarbonise the energy markets such that the energy required to heat the shower water is massively less carbon intensive than it is today.”

Charlie Mayfield, Chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, says: "We believe that a greater level of ambition for EU emissions reduction will provide incentives for innovation and investments, helping us maintain a competitive position in the low carbon economy and stimulating sustainable growth".

Dr. Kurt-Ludwig Gutberlet, CEO of BSH Bosch und Siemens Hausgeraete, says:
"Climate change, energy efficiency and resource conservation seem likely to top the agenda for the foreseeable future. We can make a valuable contribution to protecting our climate and our resources with our innovative super-efficient home appliances."

John Brock, Chairman and CEO, Coca-Cola Enterprises, says: "Climate change continues to be a critical challenge for industry, and Coca-Cola Enterprises is working diligently to grow our business while reducing our carbon emissions. We support the call for the EU to adopt a long-term 30% carbon reduction commitment and believe businesses like ours can partner with NGOs and policymakers to drive positive change. This action would help us accelerate our own carbon reduction efforts, and encourage investment in renewable technology and low-carbon innovation."

Anders Eldrup, CEO, DONG Energy, says: "Renewable energy at competitive prices is a prerequisite for a clean and reliable European energy supply. But the current framework does not properly incentivize renewable energy. While the energy sector strives to drive down the cost of renewable energy production through R&D, and while fossil fuel prices increase, we still need for European regulators and policy makers to ensure that the price of CO2 is properly reflected in the market. This calls for a move to 30% emissions reduction by 2020".

Garrett A.G. Forde, CEO, Philips Lighting, says: "Now is not the time for the EU to step on the brakes and give up its leadership position. Instead the EU should speed up the transition to a low carbon society, as we firmly believe there is a wide range of benefits for consumers, the environment and the economy. At Philips we have set the ambitious target to improve the energy efficiency of our entire portfolio by 50% by 2015. We believe we can set even more ambitious targets for beyond 2015 if the EU provides a clear, ambitious and long term commitment towards a low carbon economy."

Hannah Jones, VP Sustainable Business and Innovation at Nike, says: "Nike believes that progressive EU Climate Strategy will help forge the pathway to environmental progress, economic growth and will provide a healthy stimulus for innovation. We would like to see the EU being ambitious in its climate strategy because business needs certainty and a level playing field to help spur green jobs and unlock innovation essential to creating technology and infrastructure solutions for a sustainable future."


Notes to Editors:

1. SEC(2010) 650, Commission staff working document accompanying the analysis of options to move beyond 20% greenhouse gas emission reductions and assessing the risk of carbon leakage, Part II, p60

2. SEC(2011) 288 final, Impact assessment accompanying the Roadmap for moving to a competitive low carbon economy in 2050, p59

3. The Pew Charitable Trusts. “Global Clean Power: A $2.3 Trillion Opportunity”. December 2010.

4. International consortium of researchers led by Professor Carlo C. Jaeger from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). “A New Growth Path for Europe - Generating Growth and Jobs in the Low-Carbon Economy”. Commissioned by the German Federal Ministry of the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety. February 2011.

5. The joint business declaration was organized through the cooperation of The Climate Group, The Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership and WWF. It is published and distributed ahead of the EU Environment Council on 21 June and the European Parliament vote on moving beyond 20% on 22 June. Click here to read the full text of the Joint Business Declaration – Increasing Europe’s climate ambition will be good for the EU economy and jobs.

The following businesses have explicitly supported this Declaration so far:

Acciona, Adolfo Dominguez, Allianz, Alpro, Arjowiggins graphic, Arkadin, ASDA, Atkins, Aviva, Aviva Investors, Barilla, Better Place, BNP Paribas, Boralex, BSH Bosch Siemens Hausgeraete, British Telecom, BSkyB, Capgemini, Carrefour, Centrica, Climate Change Capital, The Coca-Cola Company, Coca-Cola Enterprises, Coca-Cola Hellenic, Crédit Agricole, Danfoss, Danone, DHV Group, DONG Energy, Electrolux, Elopak, Eneco, Eurostar, F&C Asset Management, Ferrero, First Solar, Google, H&M, If P&C Insurance Company Ltd, IKEA, InterfaceFLOR, John Lewis Partnership, Johnson Controls Inc, Kingfisher, Lafuma, Mango, Marks and Spencer, National Grid, Nestlé, Nike, Nokia Siemens Networks, Novo Nordisk, Philips, PUMA, Rockwool, RSA, Scottish and Southern Energy, SKAI Group of Companies, Sony Europe, Standard Life, Sveaskog, Swiss Re, Thames Water, The Co-operative Group, Tryg, Unicredit, Unilever, United Biscuits, Velux, Vestas, Vodafone, WSP Group.

For further information and interviews with the organisers or company representatives, please contact:

George Smeeton, Senior Press Officer, Tel: +44 (0)1483 412 388, gsmeeton@wwf.org.uk

WWF European Policy Office:
Jason Anderson, head of EU climate and energy policy at WWF, Tel.: +32 (0)474 837 603, janderson@wwf.eu

The Climate Group:
Luc Bas, Director European Programs, The Climate Group – Brussels Office, Tel.: +32 (0)478 56 20 35, lbas@theclimategroup.org

The Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership (Brussels Office):
Sandrine Dixson-Declève, EU Director, Tel.: +32 (0)477 449 439, sandrine.dixson@cpsl.cam.ac.uk

About The Climate Group
The Climate Group (www.theclimategroup.org) is an independent, not-for-profit organisation working internationally with government and business leaders to advance smart policies and technologies to cut global emissions and accelerate a low carbon economy. Its global coalition of 78 leading companies, states, regions and cities around the world recognise the economic and environmental imperatives of taking decisive action now. The Climate Group was founded in 2004 and has operations in Australia, China, Europe, India and North America.

The University of Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership (CPSL)
The University of Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership (www.cpsl.cam.ac.uk) works with business, government and civil society to build leaders' capacity to meet the needs of society and address critical global challenges. Its seminars, leadership groups (such as The Prince of Wales's EU and UK Corporate Leaders Groups on Climate Change) and partnerships with those who make or influence decisions are designed to transform public and private sector policies and practices and build greater understanding of our interdependence with one another and the natural world. CPSL's network of alumni and leadership groups brings together the most influential leaders from across the world committed to creating a sustainable future. His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales is the patron of CPSL and its EU and UK Corporate Leaders Groups on Climate Change.

About WWF
WWF (http://wwf.panda.org) is one of the world's largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with over 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries. WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the earth's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world's biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption.

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