As it happened: Paris business and climate summit, day 1

Latest news, commentary and analysis as business leaders meet in French capital to address climate change

(Pic: Moyan Brenn/Flickr)

(Pic: Moyan Brenn/Flickr)

By Ed King in London and Megan Darby in Paris 

Analysis: Will the Paris business summit mobilise climate action?
Report: Germany and France call for urgent carbon cuts
Analysis: Business eyes place at Paris climate summit top table 

1712 BST: Business execs love carbon pricing apparently. Who would have thought? Here’s the latest from Megan Darby in Paris

If there was one thing that really got the business executives going in the first session, it was carbon pricing.

The first spontaneous round of applause went to Statoil boss Eldar Saetre for saying it was what business needed to scale up low carbon investment.

OECD chief ​Angel Gurria got if anything a bigger clap for laying into the EU’s ailing carbon market. He saluted the Swedish for their much higher carbon tax.

President Francois Hollande caught the mood, saying carbon pricing was “essential” to transform economies – full story here.

15.35 BST:  Twelve states and regions agreed to join forces in cutting carbon emissions by 80-95% by 2050, to stay within the 2C target.

With more than 100 million people and a collective GDP of $4 trillion, equal to the world’s fourth economy, California’s governor Jerry Brown signed the Subnational Global Climate Leadership Memorandum of Understanding today in Paris.

15.03 BST: Hollande moves on to outlining conditions for the feted Paris deal

15.01 BST: Hollande says world can’t afford failure in Paris like Copenhagen. In a call to business, he urges companies to decarbonise assets, take stock of climate risks, and issue green bonds. Here’s what we had on the latter earlier this month.

1439 BST: French President Hollande takes to the stage to deliver his opening speech

1325 BST: As Angel Gurria, UN climate chief Christiana Figueres and Peru’s environment minister Manuel Pulgar Vidal address delegates, outside Darth Vader is leading efforts from campaigners angry at the presence of the heads of Statoil, Suez Environment and Total

1320 BST: OECD chief Angel Gurria kickstarts proceedings in Paris

1305 BST: We have protests outside the summit – evidently unhappy at the presence of some of the world’s top carbon polluters inside the venue

1300 BST: This just in from Megan Darby in Paris, who attended a roundtable on low carbon buildings earlier today:

Low carbon buildings are often described as “low hanging fruit” in climate circles. Energy efficiency measures often pay for themselves within a few years, while the emissions cuts continue to mount up. Yet these fruit must have tough stalks, because by and large, they haven’t been plucked.

The French presidency is hoping to have a buildings day at this December’s UN climate conference in Paris. At a round table here at the Business and Climate Summit, industry and public officials are trying to figure out what that might involve.

They are hoping to mobilise some public commitments to zero or low carbon building targets. There is talk of retrofitting iconic buildings, to inspire interest that has to date been somewhat lacking.

The Empire State Building has been done. Suggestions for others range from the Taj Mahal to London’s Gherkin – the latter apparently consuming energy equivalent to a city of 70,000 people.

But some participants felt these grand buildings were not relatable enough – and the biggest emissions challenge is in the residential sector. In California, revenue from the emissions trading system is used to invest in energy efficiency retrofits, with 25% reserved for low income communities.

1250 BST: As ever with these meetings, you can expect a slew of reports and promises. Today investors worth $25 trillion have unveiled a new “platform” for climate action. It shows how companies and investors are cutting greenhouse gas emissions and exploring the amount of fossil fuel assets in their portfolios. Jessica Shankleman at BusinessGreen offers a good summary here.

Other headlines:

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) says 7.7 million people are employed in the clean energy industry, an 18% increase on 2014. Solar PV is the biggest employer. The top five countries for clean-tech jobs are China, the US, India, Brazil and Germany.

Analysts at Point Carbon say confidence in carbon trading is increasing. In China they say 43% of the respondents expect to see a nationwide emission trading scheme by 2017, while 49% of European respondents agree that the EU ETS is the most cost-effective way to reduce emissions.

Carbon Pulse reports the Chinese government has set a 40% carbon intensity reduction target for industry – that’s part of a 10-year action plan.

Elsewhere, leading oil investors have wiped out $100 billion in planned spending around the world after the oil price plunge (FT $), and in China solar firm Hanergy has seen its shares suspended after a 47% drop in value.

1240 BST: If you’re confused about what to expect from this meeting, Megan Darby has pulled together this guide. As she points out, Hollande is keen to talk up an “alliance” of businesses ahead of December’s UN meeting. Some, like Apple and Unilever have already pledged to invest in renewable energies and end deforestation, but others – like Shell, BP and Glencore Xstrata – are less forthcoming.

The French government sees business as one of the main pillars of a UN deal, part of what it terms an “Agenda of Solutions”. And as RTCC found out recently, that has some worried about the influence CEOs will have over carbon targets.

1235 BST: So here’s how today will pan out. French president Francois Hollande has just given a press conference and we’ll let you know what he has had to say. It’s unlikely to be much different to his address at the Petersberg Climate Dialogue in Berlin yesterday. Read our report here.

The organisers have split the afternoon into a number of key “thematic sessions”. These include a broader discussion on the challenges in Paris with UN climate chief Christiana Figueres, a focus on energy with the chairman and CEOs of Suzlon, Statoil and Areva, and a focus on forests with envoys from Indonesia and Brazil.

Later today OECD chief Angel Gurria, France environment minister Segolene Royal and the CEOs of Unilever, Total and L’Oreal will also have their chance to address the main plenary.

1230 BST: Welcome to RTCC’s coverage of the 2015 Paris Business and Climate summit. My name is Ed King and I’ll be updating readers on the latest news from our office in London. Megan Darby will be reporting from UNESCO headquarters in Paris where this two-day meeting is taking place.

In any other year this might be your run-of-the-mill climate summit with the usual platitudes from politicians and chief executives. That won’t be the case today and tomorrow. Nearly 200 countries are working on a deal to limit warming to 2C above pre-industrial levels, a target agreed in 2009.

That makes anything said and promised by business leaders at this event critical. Envoys, diplomatic observers and analysts will be watching this meeting closely to see if they can pick up any signals. Will 2015 be business as usual or a year of change?

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