City veterans move to cut companies’ carbon emissions

City veteran Sir Ian Cheshire has been appointed as the first independent chairman of a coalition, backed by Amazon and Ikea, with plans to raise funds to help companies reduce their carbon emissions.

On Tuesday, Cheshire, the former chairman of Barclays UK and former chief executive officer of Kingfisher, the DIY retailer, will take on the role of chairman at We Mean Business Coalition, a European non-profit organization -The United States aims to call on private businesses to act. above climate change.

Cheshire, who sits on BT Group’s board, said the union wanted to rapidly accelerate the number of companies committing to work on plans aligned with halving their emissions by 2030.

The incoming chief also wants to increase the alliance’s $20 million annual budget to support new technologies that groups can use at scale to reduce their carbon footprint.

Cheshire says that one route to higher environmental standards would be to raise funds to attract institutional money to invest in opportunities identified by the union.

“There is an enormous amount of money trying to find a home in sustainable financial solutions in a number of areas, to really create long-term transformational investment funds,” he said. [and] to earn money. ”

He added that the alliance already has “a relatively substantial amount of money” to unlock investing “much more” in climate change initiatives, such as naming projects around cement and low carbon batteries.

We Mean Business claims to have helped more than 5,000 companies, from large multinationals to SMEs around the world, set out ambitious plans and commitments to tackle transformation. climate.

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Amazon and Ikea are its founding partners, with other funds coming from Children’s Equity Fund, a charity founded by hedge fund investor Sir Chris Hohn and telecom company Verizon Communications .

Cheshire says his focus will be on finding solutions to real-world problems facing the industry as a whole. “Like how do you make cement or steel for buildings? Much of this is about collaborative solutions, you won’t get a company to deal with this. “

He also pledged to work closely with governments. Cheshire chairs the UK government’s global resource initiative task force, which has sought to ensure the UK’s global supply chains of goods are sustainable and avoid deforestation. He also chairs the food, agriculture and rural committee.

“There is a kind of spaghetti soup initiative that makes a lot of sense. . . If we are fit to act, we lobby governments around the world, we can have even more impact. “

He said it was important for businesses to continue to build on the work achieved at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow last year.

Summit organizers have been strongly criticized by some business groups for excluding them with high barriers to entry. Others expressed disappointment that national governments were not moving fast enough to tackle climate change.

Cheshire said that COP26 “wasn’t a victory or a disaster. . . It was a necessary step, but not enough to get to the end, which is why we had to move on.”

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