GENEVA (AP) – A new project trumpeted by US President Joe Biden in which companies support the development of low-carbon technologies through their purchasing power constitutes a “big transformation”, the US envoy said on Thursday for the climate, John Kerry.
The “Coalition of First Movers â, Led by the US government and the World Economic Forum, aims to help meet an increasingly difficult target set in the 2015 Paris climate agreement to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. So far, nearly three dozen global companies across many industries have pledged to change their purchasing practices to foster the development of zero-emission technologies by 2030.
The idea is to launch nascent or non-existent technologies that can reduce the amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere by leveraging the market – especially the purchasing power of companies – to encourage their suppliers to clean, so that they can too. Biden spoke about the project as the UN-backed climate conference in Glasgow, known as COP26, began.
âIt’s a big transformation. It’s a big deal, âKerry told many business leaders behind the project in Glasgow on Thursday. âEveryone I’ve spoken to when they find out is like, ‘Wow, that makes sense. ” It’s awesome.’ And you all understood it instinctively, and without twisting your arm.
The designers of the project say that half of the emission reduction predicted by 2030 will come from innovations – like capturing carbon from the air – that don’t work at scale. Pushing suppliers to large companies to reduce their CO2 emissions will help create larger markets and ultimately lower costs, according to opinion.
âIf we don’t get enough reduction somewhere in the 45% range over the next 10 years, we explode 1.5 degrees – and that’s a tough target,â Kerry said, attributing to the private sector. leadership “in a way that even some governments are not.
A first phase focuses on aviation, shipping, steel and trucking, and three other industries – aluminum, cement and chemicals – are expected to join later. The seven industries account for about a third of total global carbon emissions, according to the WEF.
âVolvo says we’re going to buy X% – 10% of our vehicles are going to be made with green steel,â Kerry said. “And so all of a sudden people who make green steel know, ‘Hey, there’s somebody out there waiting to buy this.'”
But even participating companies are not yet revolutionizing their plans, committing to making changes in at least one of their purchasing areas, so not necessarily company-wide.
Questions also remain about measures and monitoring, which could amount to an attempt at âgreenwashingâ if companies try to quietly evade their commitments.
“We are going to have very strict measures and a strict follow-up on this,” said Borge Brende, president of the Geneva-based WEF, who is best known for hosting the annual conference of government and business leaders in Davos, in Swiss.
“Rest assured: we are there,” he said in a telephone interview.
He said the initiative does not replace government regulations to help curb global warming, which will always be necessary, and that putting pressure on suppliers could lead companies to face higher prices. The idea already builds on commitments in the financial sector, exemplified by carbon reduction strategies at investment firms like Blackrock and Carlisle, Brende said.
The coalition hopes to extend this financial effort to many other sectors. US-based companies including airlines Amazon, Apple, Boeing and Delta are participating, as are European aircraft maker Airbus, German Deutsche Post, Swedish energy company Vattenfall and Indian company Dalmia Cement.
âThis means that they will be quite difficult – even sectors that are difficult to reduce – in the years to come,â said Brende, referring to sectors where carbon reduction is particularly difficult. âAnd if you want to sell to these companies, you have to reduce your carbon footprint. And I’m pretty sure that signal will be received and lead to further technological breakthroughs. “
Follow AP’s coverage of the climate conference at http://apnews.com/hub/climate.