2-Week Climate Conference In Poland Comes To A End

Dec 14, 2018
Originally published on December 14, 2018 9:35 am
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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

In Poland, there's a big climate conference that is wrapping up, and American businesses have been playing a very active role at the meeting. NPR's Rebecca Hersher reports many of them are pushing governments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

REBECCA HERSHER, BYLINE: Here's something a little nutty - candy causes climate change - or candy companies do. Why? Well, candy bars are full of sugar, and conventional sugar farming destroys tropical forests and does other things that release a lot of CO2. It's a big issue for the candy company Mars. Ashley Allen is their head of sustainability.

ASHLEY ALLEN: The biggest chunk of our carbon footprint is from agriculture in our value chain.

HERSHER: Mars sent representatives to the international climate meeting because it's one of hundreds of companies trying to reduce carbon emissions. They've committed to dropping emissions by nearly a third in the next seven years, and that applies to the company itself and its suppliers. At an event in Poland, Allen said international climate agreements help them achieve that.

ALLEN: The biggest way that the Paris Agreement impacted our climate goals was it kind of set a line in the sand - so for companies to be able to say, OK, there is actually a global goal out there that we can measure.

HERSHER: The Paris Agreement asked nations to set goals to reduce greenhouse gases. Lou Leonard works on international climate policy at the World Wildlife Fund and says it provides a roadmap for companies to do the same.

LOU LEONARD: We're talking about the CEOs of Walmart, McDonald's, Microsoft. These are sort of Main Street American companies, and in - certainly in the case of Walmart and McDonald's, companies that are in all 50 states and whose customers cut across the political spectrum.

HERSHER: He says that's helpful for depoliticizing climate science. It makes business sense, too. Heat waves and extreme weather and rising seas all hurt the bottom line for big companies. This week, a coalition of American businesses has met directly with delegates from other countries to remind them that, even if the Trump administration is refusing to acknowledge climate science, they're still moving forward.

LEONARD: Companies have really moved from, you know, kind of on the sidelines of maybe dipping their toe into the political conversation to driving the transition.

HERSHER: Of course, not all businesses are on board. Big oil and coal companies are still lobbying against many climate regulations in the U.S.

Rebecca Hersher, NPR News, Katowice, Poland. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.