The announcement of new green business ambitions has become business as usual for the COP summits. This year is no exception. Several major international companies have already announced new climate ambitions at the COP24 summit in Katowice.

The 24th COP currently taking place in Poland hasn’t made headlines in the business media sphere. On the contrary, the annual climate summit is conspicuous by virtue of its absence.

But this does not mean that business hasn’t made it to Poland. A whole range of exciting business events are happening throughout the conference itself and a line of big corporations are using the COP arena to announce new green statements and layout their latest climate ambitions.

Among the bigger company announcements at this year’s meeting are the world’s largest logistics company Maersk, which has pledged carbon neutral by 2050. This is twice as ambitious as a recent international agreement among shipping industries. Given that emissions from shipping are a huge contributor to global CO2 emissions, Maersk’s latest commitment is a major step.

The oil giant Shell has also announced that it will cut its net carbon footprint by around 50% by 2050. More interestingly, Shell plans to link its executive remuneration to its carbon targets, basically meaning that it will pay C-suite members according to how much carbon they manage to curb. This scheme will be subject to a shareholder vote at Shell’s annual general meeting in 2020 and if it receives a majority of votes it would be an extremely efficient lever for change, and one can only hope it will create a new precedent.

Proactivity is climate and growth safe

More companies are following suit with announcements in the aftermath of these COP24 pledges. On Tuesday, the CEO of Volkswagen  proclaimed that “in the year 2026 our last product will start on a combustion engine platform.” Still recovering from the reputational damage of the 2015 “diesel dupe”, in which the company was caught out for cheating on emissions tests, , this recent move must be welcomed.

But the pledges are not just for the sake of good reputation, there is evidently a business case for turning green – and this is something that more and more companies are realizing. A few months prior to the COP24, the report The New Climate Economy unveiled that companies actively pursuing climate mitigation (in collaboration with public institutions) can unleash loads of value. To be more precise, the report found that bold action could yield a direct economic gain of US$26 trillion and 67 million jobs through to 2030 compared with a business-as-usual scenario. And this is considered a conservative estimate.

Companies such as Maersk, Shell and Volkswagen are examples of a growing business trend whereby companies respond proactively to the climate change agenda – and act faster than the politicians when it comes to establishing frameworks for climate safe business behavior. These are the companies that have understood that even though regulations, taxes and tariffs never are popular, as demonstrated by the recent rage in France over Macron’s proposed tariffs on fossil fuels, they will become the future of business.

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