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Diageo, Adidas, Virgin call for climate action

More than 50 major global corporates called for G20 countries to come up with concrete, long-term measures to accelerate the fossil fuel phaseout.

More than 50 major global corporates called on world leaders to move faster to tackle climate change, stressing that ambitious action will ensure long-term economic prosperity.

The declaration, which comes the day before French President Emmanuel Macron is to host a high-level climate summit in Paris, sees a raft of high profile firms, including Adidas, Unilever, Virgin Group and Diageo, call on G20 countries to come up with "concrete, long-term measures" to accelerate climate action.

A statement signed by 54 companies — together representing annual revenue of $795.41 billion — calls for a phase-out of fossil fuel subsidies by 2025, an "adequate" price on carbon and more transparency over the threat climate change poses to the financial system.

"Decisive international climate action is indispensable," the statement reads. "We call for framework conditions that lay the foundation for a pathway towards limiting global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees and allow us to actively contribute to the implementation of this pathway. We want to achieve a low-carbon economy that is energy efficient and powered by renewable energy in all sectors. This will secure jobs and prosperity, kicking off a new wave of innovation and entrepreneurship."

We want to achieve a low-carbon economy that is energy efficient and powered by renewable energy in all sectors.

The business coalition hopes its intervention will galvanize leaders attending the One Planet summit.

The event is being held two years to the day since the Paris Agreement was reached — a global treaty under which nations promised to hold global temperatures "well below" 2 degrees Celsius. But since the Paris Agreement was signed, global emissions have risen for the first time in four years, the U.S. has announced plans to withdraw from the treaty and rich countries are still billions of dollars short of their pledge to mobilize $100 billion a year in climate finance by 2020. 

The summit is expected to focus on measures to accelerate the flow of finance to climate adaptation and mitigation projects, with reports that at least 12 "concrete" projects will be announced in Paris.

But while both the Paris summit and today's business statement seek to underscore the urgency of the climate crisis, they also stress the economic opportunity low-carbon industries present.

"The companies make clear that the global decarbonization is already taking place and will need to be accelerated," said Sabine Nallinger, managing director of the German NGO Stiftung 2° which co-ordinated the statement. "Those who stay on top of this trend will shape the transformation and benefit most from the value creation in a future low-carbon economy. Policymakers of G20 countries have a particular responsibility to act as leaders and offer support to all other countries to win them as partners for this global low-carbon transformation."

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