Importance of businesses supporting action on climate change

It is a pleasure to join you this morning.

Last time I addressed the CBI was as Business Secretary, last November.

When I said that our recovery from Covid-19, would lay the foundations for future growth, and our vision for the United Kingdom.

And where I asked you to help to rebuild on those foundations, and make that vision a reality.

Today, as President Designate of the next UN climate conference, COP26, I echo that message.

Because to tackle the climate crisis, and reach net zero, we need the innovation, the influence and the energy of the private sector on our side.

And the task, friends, could not be more urgent.

In 2015, the countries of the world signed the Paris Agreement, an international deal to tackle the threat of climate change.

And they committed to try to limit the rise in global temperatures to two degrees, aiming for 1.5 degrees.

But since that Agreement was signed, we have not done nearly enough.

And now, to keep that 1.5 degree target in reach, we must halve emissions by 2030 and reach net zero by the middle of the century.

Through our COP26 and G7 Presidencies, the UK is pushing for action around the world. To keep the 1.5 degree target alive.

And we are seeing results.

The entire G7 now has net zero targets, and short-term emissions reduction targets that put them on a path to get there.

Here in the UK we have committed to slash our emissions by 78% by 2035, compared to 1990 levels.

And we are determined to build back greener as we recover from the pandemic, with the Prime Minister’s plans for a Green Industrial Revolution.

However, we can only meet our targets with business behind us.

So I am urging all companies to sign up to the Race to Zero campaign, I want to thank Tony Danker for his support here.

Race to Zero commits you to reach net zero by 2050 at the latest, and to short term targets, based on the science, to get there.

This is not only good for the planet, it’s good for your bottom line.

The direction of travel is clear: the world is going green, creating enormous opportunities for those on the front foot.

While those that do not move fast enough will be left behind.

Analysis suggests that, together, 215 of the world’s biggest companies have almost $1 trillion at risk from climate impacts.

Yet, those same companies have the potential to gain double that amount from the move to green economies.

Race to Zero membership is a clear statement that you see the possibilities presented by our green future, and that you are determined to take them.

And it shows customers and investors that you are serious about climate action.

So, to those of you that have not yet joined: I urge you to do so.

And to those of you that have: thank you.

And now please, work with your trade associations and with your supply chains to urge them to do the same.

Make a commitment to moving to net zero, a condition for doing business with your suppliers.

Work with them to help them to reduce their emissions.

And help us to drive change in vital sectors, like energy, like transport and nature.

These are priorities for our COP26 and G7 Presidencies.

And, again, we are seeing progress.

Last month the G7 Climate and Environment ministers meeting, which I co-chaired, committed to end all new direct government support for international coal power by the end of 2021.

And to transition away from dirty coal domestically to an overwhelmingly decarbonised power system in the 2030s.

But again, we need business behind us.

So please, switch to clean power.

Swap polluting vehicles for those that have zero emissions.

And commit to removing deforestation from your supply chains.

Together, let’s seize the opportunities to protect our planet, grow our economy and deliver green growth.

Thank you.

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