Mission 2025 group urges governments to set more ambitious climate goals

FILE PHOTO: French Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius, President-designate of COP21, and Christiana Figueres react at the World Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) at Le Bourget

By Simon Jessop and Alison Withers

LONDON (Reuters) - Some of the world's biggest companies, finance houses, cities and regions have joined forces to urge governments to increase their climate ambition ahead of a February 2025 deadline to deliver their emission-cutting plans to the United Nations.

The group has signed up to a coalition named Mission 2025. It is convened by Groundswell - a collaboration between non-profits Global Optimism, Systems Change Lab, and the Bezos Earth Fund.

Corporate backers include consumer goods company Unilever, the world's biggest furniture retailer IKEA and British sustainable energy company Octopus EV. Others are represented through groups such as the We Mean Business Coalition.

While some fossil fuel companies have drawn criticism from environmental campaigners, others in business are frustrated by what they see as short-sighted governments reluctant to regulate to bring about necessary change when the evidence climate change is becoming more extreme is mounting.

Mission 2025 aims to reassure political leaders they have powerful support for bold action.

It is spearheaded by Global Optimism's Christiana Figueres, who oversaw the Paris Agreement in 2015 that produced the first truly global agreement that countries would cut climate-damaging emissions.

Ten years on from the Paris deal, the nearly 200 countries who agreed to it have a deadline to put forward updated Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) that lay out a country's policies towards meeting the global goal of reducing emissions.

More than two-thirds of annual revenues across the world's biggest companies, totalling $31 trillion, was now aligned with the quest to reach net-zero emissions, the coalition said in a statement, citing data from the Energy & Climate Intelligence Unit, an independent climate thinktank.

A U.N.-backed survey this month of the public's views on climate change across 77 countries, meanwhile, showed 80% of respondents want their governments to take stronger action even though some governments, concerned about re-election and economics, have retreated from previous pledges.

Figueres told Reuters a "lack of leadership" and political noise were to blame for insufficient policy to drive the cleaner technologies that have shown themselves to be cheaper, better-performing, faster to construct and a safer investment than their incumbent rivals.

"The political economy is very clear that the future is one of decarbonisation," she said.

More clarity from governments over the direction of public policy was needed to give confidence to companies and others in the real economy to invest more in the transition to a low-carbon economy over the period to 2035.

"We think that governments are still very timid about what they're going to be including in their NDCs," she said, citing opposition from companies and others tied to the fossil fuel economy, which she said smacked of desperation.

UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Simon Stiell told delegates at a climate conference in Bonn this month that the NDCs needed to cover "every sector and all greenhouse gases".

To help empower governments to go further, the Mission 2025 coalition would provide the data needed to justify the policy changes, with a focus on the 20 largest economies, responsible for the bulk of emissions, Figueres said.

"Those will be the ones that we will be focusing more on. Not only because they have the capacity to shift more, but also because they have the means to do it."

(Editing by Barbara Lewis)