Business must step up to back historic climate deal

IT HAS BEEN an emotional start to the week. Saturday brought relief, tears, euphoria and cheers in Paris as the French foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, brought down his gavel, and announced that a Paris agreement had been signed at COP21.

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However, world leaders have stressed that the work has only just began, and that businesses must radically ramp up their efforts to transform to a low carbon economy.


This is because meeting the governmental targets agreed at COP21 will still lead to a 2.7°C rise, which would lead to dangerous levels of warming.


The historic, legally-binding climate deal aims to keep the rise in temperature to below 2°C, specifying for the first time that we should be aiming for 1.5°C. All countries have agreed to reduce emissions, and there has been a commitment to raise $100bn a year by 2020 to help poor countries adapt their economies.


All 196 countries will submit action plans with emission reduction targets. These are not legally binding, but must be reviewed every 5 years from 2020.


Inevitably, finding an agreement that all 196 countries would sign has led to some frustrating compromises, and some climate activists and scientists believe the measures are not stringent enough. But the overwhelming response has been one of relief and positivity.


World and business leaders from across the spectrum, including Obama, Cameron and Polman (Unliever’s chief executive) have stressed the vital need for business to transform and innovate to support the agreement, and the opportunities this will create.


Foodservice has already made some significant advances in the way it tackles key issues such as energy, waste and resources.


COP21 demands we do much more, much faster, much more efficiently, and much more dramatically. Those who take up the mantle can expect a challenging ride, but priceless rewards.