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Ikea, Volvo Cars, eBay, Heineken, Godrej Industries and more than 130 other businesses have urged world leaders to agree a timeline to ditch fossil fuels when countries meet for the UN climate summit in Dubai next month.
The companies, which collectively represent nearly $1tn in global annual revenues, wrote in an open letter published on Monday that heads of states and governments attending COP28 in the United Arab Emirates must address the chief cause of climate change: the burning of fossil fuels.
In the letter, which marks the first time such a large group of companies have collectively urged governments to move away from fossil fuels, the signatories warned their businesses are “feeling the effects and cost of increasing extreme weather events resulting from climate change”.
Signatories to the letter also include AstraZeneca, BT Group, Nestlé, Unilever, Bayer, Ørsted, Iberdrola and Vodafone.
“We call on all parties attending COP28 to seek outcomes that will lay the groundwork to transform the global energy system towards a full phaseout of unabated fossil fuels and halve emissions this decade,” said the letter, which was co-ordinated by the We Mean Business Coalition, a non-profit pushing for greater climate action globally.
Jesper Brodin, chief executive of Ingka, the company behind Ikea, told the Financial Times that the world was going to have to dump fossil fuels, but the key questions now were how and when.
“We are a huge community of corporate leaders that are asking our [world] leaders to take the political responsibility,” Brodin said. “We would like to see an agreement [on phasing out fossil fuels].”
The phaseout of fossil fuels is set to become a key flashpoint at this year’s COP, with the EU this week agreeing to push the issue in Dubai. At last year’s summit, more than 80 countries backed a proposal to gradually eliminate the use of oil and gas but countries such as Saudi Arabia and Russia rallied against the motion.
The UAE is one of the world’s biggest oil and gas producers. COP28 president-designate Sultan al-Jaber, who also leads the country’s state-owned oil company, this year said unabated fossil fuels will need to be phased down by “mid-century” if the world is to limit global temperature rises to meet the goals of the 2015 Paris accord.
Under the Paris agreement, countries agreed to limit global temperature rises to well below 2C — and ideally to 1.5C — above pre-industrial levels.
A COP28 spokesperson said the UAE was pushing for a tripling of renewable energy capacity. “The phase-down of fossil fuels is inevitable and essential, but it must also be just and orderly, and building a new energy system can only happen at speed and scale with united action.”
Since the Paris accord, businesses have set so-called net zero targets to cut their greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, but many have expressed concern about a lack of coherent national and international policies to meet the goals of the 2015 agreement.
In the letter, the businesses said they — as big purchasers and users of energy — are “taking action and working towards phasing out our use of fossil fuels” and replacing them with the use of renewable energy.
But they called for financial institutions and policymakers to work with business to ensure capital is being allocated to accelerate the clean energy transition.