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Climate change requires new and responsible leadership

As representatives of industry, business and WWF’s global Climate Savers program, we are prepared to pursue the development of a climate-friendly economy. New business and investment models are needed to reduce climate impact. Each day, companies and other stakeholders around the world take clear steps in the right direction.

Leadership today is about managing change. By taking responsibility throughout the value chain beyond our own production, we create change and highlight the potential for emission reductions across sectors.

With these ambitions as a basis, we welcome the Swedish government’s work on a climate policy framework. International experience shows that close cooperation with the business community can provide broad consensus and a commitment to common goals.

We would like to contribute to the mutual trust and development that such a framework needs. As members of WWF’s international Climate Savers program, we want to show what is possible.

We also see a role for the Swedish government’s newly established ‘Innovation Council’ that has the objective of strengthening Swedish competitiveness and fostering the emergence of tomorrow’s goods and services. We are convinced that both of these goals must be supported with a clear climate policy. If we are to build future competitiveness neither politics nor businesses are in a position to ignore the climate issue.

The foundation for action

In Gothenburg on 5-7 May, Climate Savers companies will meet up to discuss the work of climate-friendly production and marketing. The WWF Climate Savers initiative would like to spread the conclusions and recommendations that can be useful for the Swedish Innovation Council’s work. In this way, we can lay the foundation for future investment and clear research initiatives.

Sometimes corporate commitment to sustainability is questioned. At the Climate Savers Business Event, we will show evidence to the contrary. Along with 27 other global companies, all leaders in their sectors, we will gather to share experiences of how we (through science-based targets and concrete actions) can contribute to meeting climate targets.

By setting clear and ambitious goals, we want to inspire others to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions while creating business value and growth.

Active climate work is not only a necessity from a global resource perspective. It also creates value for customers, employees, suppliers and shareholders.

SKF, for example, aims to increase revenue fourfold from the so-called Beyond Zero portfolio from 2.5 billion in 2011 to SEK 10 billion in 2016. It is about products that can help SKF’s customers reduce their environmental impact through increased energy efficiency and the development of technologies for renewable energy and electric vehicles.

Creating change

In order to achieve a climate-friendly economy, it is not enough to simply have individual emission reduction targets. What we need now is resource-efficient solutions, business models and a game plan with a long-term framework and clear rules.

Volvo Group’s Construction Climate Challenge initiative is an example that promotes greater sustainability in the international construction industry. It has effects throughout the whole value chain. The commitment of the Climate Savers companies means a reduction of carbon dioxide emissions by 40 million tonnes by 2020. In the City Mobility Program, Volvo Group works with cities around the world to offer energy efficient and silent transport in urban traffic.

Sweden is one of the countries with the highest ecological footprint per person – every Swedish citizen lives as if we had 3.7 planets. It is not a utopian idea to live within planetary boundaries. Leading with responsibility can begin here.

The 29 companies that are part of the Climate Savers programme have already reduced CO2 emissions by more than 100 million tonnes (representing approximately two years of Swedish emissions). We have a great opportunity to create change and encourage politicians to lead successful negotiations at the international climate negotiations in Paris later this year.

This guest post was written by Niklas Gustavsson (Chief Sustainability Officer, Volvo Group), Rob Jenkinson (Director, Corporate Sustainability, SKF), Håkan Wirtén (Secretary General of WWF Sweden) and Mariann Eriksson (Marketing Manager, WWF Sweden).

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