Government and business leaders were advised to be ambitious about their climate change commitments, at an event hosted by Imperial College London.
The meeting of the Whitehall & Industry Group (WIG) took place yesterday, as the deadline approached for governments to submit their commitments to cut carbon dioxide emissions to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
Imperial, which been a member of WIG since 2014, facilitated the meeting through the Grantham Institute - Climate Change and Environment.
Government officials and businesspeople from a range of sectors joined Imperial staff to debate the importance of actions such as reducing carbon emissions from the UK's heaviest polluting industries and changing the behaviour of consumers.
They shared their different perspectives and ambitions for the global climate deal, which will be negotiated at the 2015 UN Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris in December.
Earlier in the week, Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, spoke about the role of business and industry in leading action on climate change. He warned that unless companies cleaned up their carbon emissions, the consequences of global environmental change would soon affect many peoples' quality of life and put businesses and financial markets at risk.
Jonathan Grant, Director of Sustainability & Climate Change at PwC, said at the meeting: "Businesses want to be part of the low-carbon future, but also need a consistent and clear policy direction from governments. A strong agreement at COP21 and credible national climate plans is a way for governments to send a signal to stimulate business into action."
James Hughes, Deputy Director of International Strategy, Engagement & Analysis at the Department for Energy & Climate Change added: "For the UK, it is important that a deal is done in Paris, and also that such an agreement paves the way to being more ambitious about carbon emissions reductions in the future. By regularly upping our ambition, we can take into account the lessons we learn along the way, and developments in technology."
With a global agreement in place, we will be able to focus more research in this area, enabling and implementing new technical innovation
– Alyssa Gilbert
Head of Policy and Translation, Grantham Institute
Professor James Stirling, Provost of Imperial College London, welcomed delegates to the day of discussion. Professor Stirling said: "Imperial's recently published Strategy for 2015 to 2020 commits the College to tackling the most pressing global challenges head-on. These are complex, and can only be met through collaborating across disciplines, and with external partners whose aspirations and capabilities complement our own. That is why it is of such critical importance that we do all that we can to facilitate meaningful dialogue between business, government and academia on issues such as climate change and the environment."
The Grantham Institute funds and promotes research in the earth's climate systems, strategies to avoid climate change and technologies to cope with its effects, In the run-up to the negotiations in Paris, the Institute is hosting a series of events to discuss, inform and engage policymakers, business leaders, members of the College community and the public.
Alyssa Gilbert, Head of Policy and Translation from the Grantham Institute, said: "The science is clear. It is vital that countries come together at COP to agree that this is an international priority. The backdrop of global consensus will stimulate a variety of actions at national level to begin to tackle the climate change challenge. With a global agreement in place, we will be able to focus more research in this area, enabling and implementing new technical innovation."
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