Companies call on their governments to place climate considerations at the heart of economic recovery plans

Anna Triponel

May 4, 2020

As debate about whether the climate should be at the heart of post-pandemic economic recovery intensifies and the Petersberg Climate Dialogue concludes, a growing number of influential companies take position calling for environmental considerations to be placed front and centre of all governmental recovery plans.

In an open letter sent to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, 18 businesses, over two dozen environmental groups, and a number of public figures urge the UK government to build a more resilient green economy in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

  • Company signatories include Iceland, Ben & Jerry’s, The Body Shop, Triodos Bank, Barratt Homes, and Good Energy.
  • The companies urge the Johnson administration to prioritise investment in “climate-safe” infrastructure and technology, and skills for sustainable jobs. Companies from “polluting industries” that do not have a proper climate plan should be excluded. The government should seek to restore ecosystems on land and in oceans, and support sustainable food, farming and fishing. The government should pass environmental laws which include targets to restore ecosystems, and seek to bring global leaders together to plan for a sustainable economic recovery.

In an open letter to Le Monde, over 90 French and international companies call on the French government to “place the environment at the heart of the economic recovery.”

  • Company signatories include BNP Paribas, LVMH, AXA, Suez, Danone, Saint-Gobain, Société Générale, Schneider, Alstom, Total, EDF, BASF, Generali, Siemens, Bayer, GE, Deloitte and Arcelor-Mittal.
  • The companies urge the government to “channel a large proportion of the financial resources earmarked for economic recovery into the areas already identified as supporting ecological transition.”
  • The letter was initiated by Jean-Laurent Bonnafé, CEO of BNP Paribas, and coordinated by think tank Entreprises pour l’Environnement.

A similar letter has been signed by 68 German companies (coordinated by Foundation 2C) calling for coronavirus-related state aid to be tied to climate action. Signatories include ThyssenKrupp, Salzgitter, Bayer, Covestro, E.ON, HeidelbergCement, Puma, Allianz and Deutsche Telekom.

Companies have also been vocal in stating that the European Green Deal should be placed at the heart of EU’s post-pandemic recovery plan. 37 CEOs (including from The Coca-Cola Company, L’Oréal, Lego, Ikea, H&M, Unilever and Danone) and 28 business associations joined an informal alliance launched in the European Parliament on 14 April. This Green Recovery Alliance, which brings together Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), the private sector and civi society, calls for “the establishment of Green Recovery Investment Packages acting as accelerators of the transition towards climate neutrality and healthy ecosystems.”

“The economic recovery from this global health crisis must put the restoration of nature at its heart – because that is the only way we can continue to power our human endeavour sustainably. If nature is protected, we are protected. This letter asks the UK government to seize the opportunity to create something better out of this moment in history and establish a new normal: a climate-safe, nature-rich, healthy world for all.”                      

Richard Walker, Managing Director, Iceland Foods, Green recovery: UK business leaders urge PM to build a ‘resilient economy’ ahead of nationwide address (Business Green, 8 May 2020)

“To address the crisis beyond the short term, we will need to deploy collective intelligence in the post-pandemic world, envision far-reaching changes to our methods of production, business models, consumer behaviour and lifestyles, and rethink our relationship with nature. Let us use the present challenge we are facing together as an opportunity for us all to put the environment at the core of a collective rebound.”                      

Tribune collectif, Mettons l’environnement au cœur de la reprise économique (Le Monde, 4 May 2020)

“Many companies from all sectors of the economy have already begun to make their business models climate-friendly, based on scientific evidence. These investments must not be jeopardized. The German government should work with all Member States of the European Union to assure that the there is no turning back from European climate policy.”                      

Sabine Nallinger, Managing Director, Foundation 2C, Major corporates urge EU to put net zero at heart of Covid-19 recovery plans (Business Green, 28 April 2020)

“After the crisis, the time will come to rebuild. This moment of recovery will be an opportunity to rethink our society and develop a new model of prosperity. … Projects such as the European Green Deal … have a huge potential to build back our economy and contribute to creating a new prosperity model. We therefore consider that we need to prepare Europe for the future, and design recovery plans, both at the local, national and at the EU level, enshrining the fight against climate change as the core of the economic strategy.”                      

180 Signatories, Call for mobilisation – Green recovery: Reboot & reboost our economies for a sustainable future (Green Recovery Alliance, 14 April 2020)

You may also be interested in

This week’s latest resources, articles and summaries.