Our polluted and warming planet is at a critical juncture. This year’s Paris COP is shaping up to be that decisive summit for the future of humankind. Obama and Xi Jinping already brokered their monumental agreement to reduce and cap emissions months in advance of the Paris Summit. IKEA’s €1bn announcement to defossilise their business operations is the latest in a series of unpredicted moves on climate change. The oil and gas giants Shell and BP have urged governments to introduce a carbon price to force coal – the dirtiest fuel - out of the energy mix. Climate-friendly commitments are heating up so that the planet can cool down.
IKEA’s bold commitment entails spending €500m on wind energy and €100m on solar to power the furniture store's global operations. The flat-pack giant’s charitable arm will spend a further €400m helping poorer and vulnerable countries likely to be worst hit by climate change. IKEA plans for all its buildings to be powered by renewables. All the lighting it sells will run on LEDs, and with its huge market share the company says it will force down the price of the bulbs.
We have reached a turning point where our business operations and economies are defossilising. The long battle over climate change could soon be won, especially as renewable energies become cheaper than fossil fuels.
You know the times they are a changin’ when the Saudi oil minister announces that he expects his country to switch from oil to solar in the next decades. Reversal of our carbon emitting and unfettered waste of resources appears to be changing. Apple are rumoured to be developing an electric car. The chief executive of Unilever has called for much more ambitious targets from governments to drive investment in clean technology.
Of course though, there is still huge resistance to reversing our polluting ways, especially by coal-dependent nations and firms. One of them, Koch Industries in the US, is supporting its views with an investment of nearly £1bn in political campaigning in the US elections. So while many national governments and multi-national companies are actioning impressive sustainability moves, the struggle against the fossil fools will be tough leading up to the Paris COP and beyond.
IKEA has urged other businesses to emulate its move, arguing such action could transform the way electricity is generated much faster than expected. “If every business and organisation did what we did, we would flip electricity generation into being renewable-based by 2020 or shortly thereafter,” said Steve Howard, Ikea’s chief sustainability officer. The group’s announcement comes as officials from nearly 200 countries gather in Bonn, Germany, to shape the negotiating text for a global climate change pact due to be finalised at a UN meeting in Paris in December.