We’re entering the second week of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (or COP 20) in Lima, Peru and if businesses haven’t been paying attention already, they really should be. Let’s start with the hard facts here. Unilever CEO Paul Polman explains why tackling climate change is something that should be at the top of every businesses’ list.
It all comes down to that simple word: growth. Combating climate change makes economic sense for businesses. “The cost of acting,” Polman said, “is becoming bigger than the cost of not acting.”
In an op-ed for CNN, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Climate Change secretariat Christiana Figueres made it clear that no matter the size of the business, the spirit of entrepreneurship is vital for making a difference in the climate.
“It's easy to forget that some of the world's biggest corporations were not always that big,” she wrote.
Figueres points to “the Solar Queen of Southeast Aisa” a Take Wandee Khunchornyakong, who began connecting rural villages to solar—and eventually built a multi-million dollar industry out of it.
“She spotted an opportunity and seized upon it,” she wrote. “Observing regulatory changes in Thailand's energy market, she visited the local authority to obtain more permits to build solar farms. The clerk she spoke to said: ‘Please take more since no one else wants them.’”
It’s also important for businesses to take note since the rest of the world is watching.
“We challenge those in Lima to turn their attention from the lethargy and process of the negotiations and pay attention to what is happening in the real world,” wrote Greenpeace’s Executive Director Kumi Naidoo in a blog post. “We call on them to understand that climate change is not a future threat to be negotiated but a clear and present danger that requires urgent action now!”
If you’re a business who wants to start going green, check out the Guide for Responsible Corporate Engagement in Climate Policy.