The city’s veteran is moving to reduce corporate CO2 emissions

City veteran Sir Ian Cheshire has been named as the first independent chairman of a coalition, backed by Amazon and Ikea, with plans to raise funds to help companies reduce CO2 emissions.

On Tuesday, Cheshire, the former chairman of Barclays UK and former CEO of Kingfisher, the do-it-yourself dealer, will take over the chairmanship of the We Mean Business Coalition, a European-American non-profit aimed at getting private companies to to deal with climate change.

Cheshire, who sits on the board of BT Group, said the coalition quickly wanted to accelerate the number of companies committing to plans that are consistent with halving their emissions by 2030.

The future leader also wants to increase the coalition’s annual budget of $ 20 million to support new technologies that groups can use on a large scale to reduce their CO2 footprint.

Cheshire said a way to higher environmental standards would be to raise funds to attract institutional money to invest in opportunities identified by the coalition.

He said: “There is a huge amount of money trying to find a home in sustainable financing solutions in a number of areas, in order to actually create funds that invest in long-term transformation. [and] to come back. “

He added that the coalition already had “a relatively significant amount” to unlock “much more” investment in climate change initiatives, such as naming projects around low-carbon cement and batteries.

We Mean Business claims to have helped more than 5,000 companies, from large multinationals to SMEs around the world, set ambitious commitments and plans to address climate change.

Amazon and Ikea are its founding partners, while other funds come from The Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, a philanthropic organization set up by hedge fund investor Sir Chris Hohn and telecommunications company Verizon Communications.

Cheshire said his focus would be on finding solutions to practical problems that entire industries face. “How do you make cement or steel for buildings? A lot of this is about collaborative solutions, you do not get a single company to solve this.”

He also committed himself to working closely with governments. Cheshire chaired the UK Government’s Global Resource Initiatives Task Force, which sought to ensure the country’s global commodity supply chain was sustainable and avoided deforestation. He is also chairman of the Food, Agriculture and Landscape Commission.

“There’s a kind of huge sense of spaghetti soup of initiatives… If we set ourselves up for action, we lobby governments around the world, we can have a lot more influence.”

He said it was important for companies to continue to build on the work done at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow last year.

Summit organizers were sharply criticized by some business groups for excluding those with high barriers to entry. Others expressed frustration that national governments were not moving fast enough to tackle climate change.

Cheshire said COP26 “was neither a triumph nor a disaster… It is a necessary step but not enough to get to the last one and therefore we have to keep going”.

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