The head of one of the UK’s biggest business groups will say that companies are ready to strike out on their own to deliver a net-zero world regardless of what is agreed at the climate change conference in Glasgow.
Tony Danker, the director general of the Confederation of British Industry, will on Thursday tell business leaders that “this job is on us”.
“Governments are making some progress at Cop26, but only serious business action can keep 1.5C alive,” he is expected to say at a dinner on Thursday, referring to the goal to limit global warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.
“We cannot achieve net zero without clean energy to power our world. Without foundational industries, from agriculture, to mining, to building, shifting to sustainable ways of working.”
He will say companies that show the “greatest boldness” need to be rewarded if the world is to get to net zero and call on firms to show the way.
“This is a time for business leadership. We can’t do it without governments but nor can we wait for them to reach perfect agreement. This is a moment in history where every firm needs to step up and lead.
“For some of you, I know, this is a moral obligation; a commitment to business as a force for good or to leaving a sustainable legacy to future generations.”
The message comes as the former Bank of England governor, Mark Carney, revealed that global financial firms that control 40% of the world’s assets had signed up to a net-zero plan.
The money they can direct should be more than enough to put the world on a path to net zero, he said.
Experts say that companies are realising that it makes financial sense to abandon polluting ways of doing business.
“To put it bluntly, in purely commercial terms, the cost of inaction is, for the first time, higher than the cost of action,” Mr Danker will say.
He will add: “Yet there is an emerging gap now between firms who want to be at the forefront of the net-zero transition and those who are resisting the inevitable. It’s time for firms to choose – either lead the way or be left behind.”