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"CEOs, in facing the climate crisis, let's take our responsibilities" Isabelle Kocher

By ENGIE - 28 January 2020 - 14:55

On the occasion of the World Economic Forum, the Davos summit, find out Isabelle Kocher’s opinion piece, co-signed with the president of Imagine and former CEO of Unilever Paul Polman. The text calls on business leaders to reinvent their strategy to put all aspects of ecological transition at the core of their companies model.


The effects of the climate crisis are unfolding at a destructive pace. They are making the world's economic, social and environmental fractures even more acute. 2019 was the year of a global awakening under the pressure of citizen mobilizations, especially among young people, on which we can build.


At the occasion of the Davos summit, ENGIE and The B Team hosted an event to gather leadership around this challenge. We are both convinced that the private sector can engage and tackle climate change and inequalities head on.


As business leaders, we must lead the transformation of industrial production, secure green and remunerative jobs and leverage the effect of virtuous public policies. We can only do this by transforming the way we lead and operate.


Unilever has been successful through investments that have made its products more sustainable.


Purpose-led brands have consistently driven growth for the company—contributing to 75% of the company’s overall growth in 2018 and growing 69% faster than the rest of the business. In addition, all of Unilever’s facilities around the world are now powered by 100% renewable grid electricity. As a result, Unilever's total energy consumption has fallen by 28%, contributing to more than €600 million in cumulative cost avoidance.


ENGIE has also made radical strategic shifts in line with a people, planet, profit approach—literally reversing the company’s historical model. Since 2016, ENGIE’s moved away from an energy producer-first operation to one dedicated to helping its customers consume less energy, greener energy and for more comfort. Nearly 4 years later, ENGIE's CO2 emissions are cut in half and growth and profits are on the rise again.


These efforts and results represent a value proposition for companies - not only moral and environmental, but truly economic. Investing in efficiency and circularity means generating sustainable growth, now the only one possible. The changes we seek can only be built in collaboration among all stakeholders because no one has the solution alone.


Since the industrial revolution, we have created wealth through cheap and easily accessible fossil fuels, leading to more human development, more freedom but also more damage to the planet.


The transition to a net zero-carbon economy must therefore be fair, democratic and equitable in order to preserve freedom and continue the march of progress.


The European Union's Green Deal is a promising model. Reducing emissions will remain the yardstick by which we must measure the relevance of our actions for a long time to come. The scale of the task is considerable, and the timetable more urgent than ever. We, as business decision-makers, must make a commitment to reduce emissions by at least 50% within ten years. This means innovating and creating the products, practices and services that this new era requires.


No one must be left behind. At the dawn of a new decade, there must be a renewed corporate commitment to ambitious climate leadership.


Find out Isabelle Kocher’s piece on LinkedIn.