#1 cleantech news, reviews, & analysis site in the world. Subscribe today. The future is now.

Air Quality

Published on November 23rd, 2015 | by Cynthia Shahan


Richard Branson & Business Leaders Call For Net-Zero Emissions By 2050

November 23rd, 2015 by  

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.”

20139776565_3501ca82c2_hWith so many countries in Paris, this is a time for more action than talk and ponderable good intentions. It is indeed a time of choices to directly act on — actionable long-term emissions goals.

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 storyBusinessGreen 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.

Related Stories:

Corporate Climate Leaders Redefine Business As Usual

New Climate Rewrite May Herald Success At COP21 In Paris

When It Comes To Climate Change, The B Team Means Business

Image: Enseignement supérieur et Recherche /Foter.com / CC BY-SA

Tags: , , , ,

About the Author

is a Mother, an Organic Farmer, Licensed Acupuncturist, Anthropology Studies, and mother of four unconditionally loving spirits, teachers, and environmentally conscious beings who have lit the way for me for decades.

  • Mike

    Not to throw water on everybody’s fervor, but after reading “This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate”, chapter 7, “No Messiahs. The Green Billionaires Won’t Save Us”, I’ll take anything attributed to Richard Branson on real solutions to climate change as vaporware.

  • Matt

    Oh the ads you will see. To the right, taking up the the up space of the text, what ad do I see? “Join Rob in supporting Ohio coal, said for by Portman for senate”
    Big head shake.

    • Haha. Wonder how that one got on CT. Couldn’t have been geotargeted — aren’t you in Oz? Definitely not relevant to the article. Google craziness.

    • But more importantly, why is it covering the text? What device are you using? That shouldn’t be happening.

  • JamesWimberley

    The timetable and the review process will have to be binding. The NDCs don’t have to be; the enforcement mechanisms for unilateral promises are peer and grassroots pressure.

    I wonder if ISIS may have done the world a bloody service by concentrating the minds of leaders on climate. There is a small but real physical risk to them personally of going to Paris. There is a larger physical risk to them personally, and to their own children, of the world collapsing into chaos from climate disaster.

Back to Top ↑