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Latest UN climate conference strengthens case for business-government bridge

<p>At COP 19 in Warsaw, Poland, business leaders acknowledged the importance of working with the public sector.</p>

Read more on COP 19 insights about public-private partnerships here.

In the wake of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, we are reminded again of the serious threat that climate change poses to our planet and civilization. This reality affects every company, industry and nation, and the solution requires cooperation from each actor across all fronts.

This bleak reminder of natural disasters occurred at a critical time, as business leaders gathered at the United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP) 19 in Warsaw, Poland, to discuss their role in addressing climate change.

A common theme at this conference, which took place Nov. 11-22, was the importance of the private sector in finding and implementing solutions. As stated by Carlos Busquets of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), "Without the private sector, we can't expect to meet the technological and financial challenges that are needed in order to tackle this problem."

Businesses bridge the gap with governments

There was encouraging enthusiasm from conference attendees, who showed a willingness to take on bottom-up initiatives. Companies made it clear that they are ready to step up to the plate and take the lead in altering the climate change course, but they need governments and other world leaders to meet them halfway. What is required is a bridge between the needs and objectives of the private sector and the regulations and policies of governments. 

As an example, the ICC, together with World Climate Ltd, launched the Road to Paris Initiative [PDF]. This aims to create a shared plan and a durable bridge between business and government in devising solutions to the climate change problem. The partnership aims to help reach a global deal at the conference in Paris in 2015. 

Ingrid Reumert, vice president of public affairs and sustainability at Velux Group, expressed the commitment of her company to climate change: "We are ready to work, we see this as important, and we are ready to take our part," she said. "We wish for clear milestones and a clear path, so that we all know what we have to work toward in order to get an ambitious global deal." The desire for collaboration and a clear path was echoed by the business community throughout the different business-side events.

The business benefits of tackling climate change

Climate change affects all of us, and cross-sector collaboration is required to fix it. Although the private sector often has been blamed for the climate change calamity, no doubt much is at stake for each company. Climate change not only will affect the state of our planet, but also companies' supply chains and value chains, directly impacting profitability. Or as Peter Bakker, CEO of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), said, "Business is recognizing that the cost of inaction, the cost of not dealing with climate change, is getting larger than the cost of action."

The time to act is now. Nature is starting to send invoices, and businesses, consumers and governments must work hand in hand to solve the climate change problem.

Flags photo by ArtisticPhoto via Shutterstock

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