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What must business do today? - Opening Session of NYC Climate Week


Business Panel - Opening Session of NYC Climate Week

Speaking points by Angel Gurría,

OECD Secretary-General

23 September 2019 - New York, USA

(As prepared for delivery) 



Secretary-General, what are your thoughts on how private sector action on climate change is shaping-up? And what do governments need to do to help business fulfil its role? (3 minutes)

Urgent action on climate is needed now! The record heat waves we experienced this summer are just a taste of how climate change could spin out of control. Business leaders are recognising their role in addressing shared social and economic challenges – and that companies will face reputational risks if they do not act.

For instance, the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) develops recommendations for voluntary climate-related financial disclosures that provide useful information to lenders, insurers, and investors.

The OECD is fully committed to support such initiatives to help businesses act against climate change. The OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises provide principles and standards for responsible business conduct consistent with internationally recognised standards. The Guidelines are an important mechanism that can be used for effective monitoring of companies’ climate change action, calling on businesses to carry out due diligence to identify and respond to environmental and social risks. At the heart of the Guidelines lies the network of National Contact Points (currently in 48 governments), established by each adhering country to promote and ensure adherence to the Guidelines.

During the G7 Biarritz Summit, we launched the Business for Inclusive Growth (B4IG) initiative, a trend-setting initiative to promote new business approaches that contribute to the common good, as described by President Macron during the Summit. The CEOs of 34 leading global firms have already earmarked more than 50 projects to the Biarritz pledge against inequalities, for a combined total of over 1 billion US dollars. The next step of this initiative will be to further strengthen the sustainability angle, which is deeply linked to inclusiveness objectives.

Another one of our priorities is to increase the role of business in financing climate-resilient infrastructure needs, which we estimate at 6.9 trillion US dollars annually to 2030. Harnessing the financial muscle of institutional investors – around 84 trillion US dollars in OECD countries alone – can make a real difference! Today, however, a very small proportion actually flows towards sustainable infrastructure investment.

Last but not least, public actors can help, by reducing risks, reducing search costs for projects and partners or by helping scale projects to an appropriate size for institutional investors. This is one of the missions of the OECD’s Centre for Green Finance and Investment, through which we work with the private sector to support the transition to a green, low-emissions and climate-resilient economy.

In my fourth Biennial Climate Lecture in Geneva earlier this year, I emphasised that it is time to reclaim our common future. This applies to businesses too! Let us join forces and act against climate change.





See also:

OECD work on Environment

OECD work with the United States


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