Richard Branson and other notable business leaders were signatories of a definitive letter of climate action directed to heads of state. Specifically, the letter calls for the Paris (COP21) deal to include a long-term climate goal of net-zero emissions by 2050. Their aim in the process is “the end of business as usual.”
The business group — the B Team — consists of 22 major business and civil society leaders, and a circle of high-profile names. The letter was signed by Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson, Kering and Harley-Davidson director Jochen Zeitz, Unilever chief executive Paul Polman, and more.
“We know this is ambitious, but it is ambition that will generate the global momentum and focus that is critical to success,” the B Team’s letter said. “The science, economic costs and social risks of climate change are becoming increasingly clear. We believe that securing a long-term goal in Paris should therefore be an urgent personal priority for you, as it is for all of us.”
The group pledged to support political leaders in driving forward a concrete progressive agenda. Urging leaders to “clarify” their vision and acknowledging the responsibilities of business leaders themselves, 10 of the signatories have already set a 2050 target for their companies to have net-zero emissions.
In a related story, BusinessGreen also contrasts communication around the legally essential aspect of the COP21: The EU reports that any global climate deal reached in Paris next month will be legally binding. On the other side, however, US Secretary of State John Kerry’s asserts that the negotiations will not have a binding treaty as an outcome. According to the Financial Times in an article published on Wednesday, Kerry said any agreement reached at December’s climate talks would not legally require countries to cut their carbon emissions, stressing the deal was “definitively not going to be a treaty.”
The Guardian reports that the EU responds precisely to Kerry: “The Paris agreement must be an international legally binding agreement,” a spokeswoman for the EU’s climate commissioner, Miguel Arias Cañete, told the Guardian. “The title of the agreement is yet to be decided, but it will not affect its legally binding form.” The French foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, responded it was obvious that the Paris agreements will contain lawful elements.
“Jurists will discuss the legal nature of an accord on whether it should be termed as a treaty or an international agreement,” Fabius told reporters. “But the fact that a certain number of dispositions should have a practical effect and be legally binding is obvious so let’s not confuse things, which is perhaps what Mr Kerry has done.”
Continuing, “The political-level talks in Paris start on 7 December, so we still have some time to sort this out,” Cañete’s spokeswoman said.
The Kyoto Protocol of 1997 was the last legally binding climate treaty. The 1997 Kyoto Protocol imposed binding emissions targets — in those countries that ratified it. For the US, it was during the Bush administration and the US did not sign. As with that agreement, the new one may include a voluntary element.
“The EU and a host of developing countries have said the Paris treaty must be ‘legally binding,'” BusinessGreen adds, “and pushed for the timetable set at the 2011 climate conference in Durban, which outlined that a global legal framework covering all countries should be set in 2015 and enter into force in 2020.”
Now, unfortunately, we have the Obama administration “facing major challenges ratifying any legal treaty in the Republican-dominated US Congress.” As a result, just about anything agreed to in Paris will have to be implemented by Obama through an executive order — and what can be done that way is limited.
Mentioning Richard Branson, a recent, CleanTechnica repost, “What Cigarettes, Asbestos, Coal, & ICE All Have In Common.” points out the importance of switching from ICE vehicles to electric vehicles in order to stop global warming and cut toxic fumes:
“The good news is that both cigarettes and asbestos have been recognized for what they always were, although coal burning and the use of the internal combustion engine (ICE) continue to get away with it,” Roger Atkins writes.
“I hope in 10 years from now the smell of exhaust will be as much a thing of the past as the smell of cigarettes in a restaurant,” Richard Branson states.