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DSM’s CEO speaks at G7 Environment Meetings

19 Sep 2018, Halifax, CA

On 19 September DSM’s CEO Feike Sijbesma was invited to represent the private sector at the G7 Ministerial Meeting on Working Together on Climate Change, Oceans, and Clean Energy. Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna, hosted counterparts from France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union along with representatives from Jamaica, Kenya, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Norway, Seychelles and Vietnam in Halifax.

DSM’s CEO speaks at G7 Environment Meetings

Topics at the meeting included the importance of landing a clear set of rules, which will enhance transparency and accountability for implementing the Paris Agreement on climate change before the end of the year, which will help unleash private sector investment and create new jobs in clean growth.

Speech by Feike Sijbesma at the G7 ministerial meeting: Working together on climate change, oceans and clean energy

"Thank you, Minister McKenna, for inviting me to join your important G7 meeting on climate change, oceans and clean energy. I am pleased to be here.

The commitment of governments and non-state actors to the Paris Agreement is high, but we are not on track to realize it. Unfortunately, Mother Earth doesn’t negotiate. I don't need to reiterate that the effects of climate change are already being felt, and that this is happening at a pace much faster than our actions to mitigate it.

Over a century ago, Royal DSM began as a state-owned coal mining company. Since then, we have transformed. First into a chemical company and later into a €10 billion science-based company - thriving in nutrition, health and sustainable living - employing 25,000 people worldwide. Today, we are a “purpose-led, performance-driven” company, with sustainability as our core value.

Improve, enable and advocate

When it comes to climate action, DSM employs an “improve-enable-advocate” philosophy. At DSM, we see it as both a responsibility and an opportunity.

First of all, improving our environmental performance lowers costs and risks. We’ve moved to a new, more ambitious absolute reduction target of 30% of our own emissions by 2030 versus 2016 levels. We will realize this through energy efficiency measures and sourcing more renewable electricity. For example, we will be buying 75% of our electricity from renewable sources by 2030. In 2017, we were already at 21%.

Secondly, enabling our customers with the solutions they need, to improve their environmental performance, drives more growth. Our bright science enables circular and low-emission innovations in areas such as animal feed, cars, solar panels, carpets and biofuels. We also help protect our oceans through sustainable aquaculture innovation and our materials science, which supports The Ocean Cleanup.

And thirdly, advocating climate action, like I am doing here today in Halifax, results in higher engagement of our stakeholders - ranging from our employees, to our investors, to society at large. Many of the technological solutions are already in place. However, broad societal engagement is key. We are more likely to succeed at an accelerated low-carbon transition, if it is socially inclusive, and if it is encouraged by demand for sustainable solutions from citizens and consumers alike.

Putting a price on carbon

Shifting to a low-carbon economy takes time and will require large investments, also in innovation. Therefore, it is essential that we anchor real incentives into our economic system. A key way to do so is by putting a meaningful price on heat-trapping gases and pollution. Carbon pricing, along with disclosure of climate-related financial risks and opportunities, can unlock trillions of private climate finance. We must do both to “future-proof” our economies and companies, and most importantly, the world we live in.

I was pleased to see that the New Climate Economy Report, released just last week, flags the need for the major economies, led by the G20, to put a price on carbon of at least $40-80 per ton CO2e.by 2020, with a predictable pricing pathway to US$100 by 2030, as recommended also by the High Level Commission on Carbon Prices led by Joseph Stiglitz and Nick Stern. And CEOs, too, have been advocating the need for credible and effective carbon prices, in Davos  last year, with nearly two-thirds of them indicating that a price above $40 by 2025 will be needed. As DSM, we have put an internal price on carbon, which we apply when reviewing large investment decisions, of €50 per ton CO2e.

Significant progress has been made in recent years. EU carbon prices have increased to well over €20 due to recent reform of its emissions trading scheme (ETS). China is embarking on an ETS, and in the Americas, collaboration and alignment is growing between governments.

However, in the absence of a global entity that can ensure an internationally aligned development of carbon prices across jurisdictions, an often-flagged concern is that of competitiveness. This is why we need a well-informed conversation on the degree to which competitiveness concerns are likely to occur in the real economy, as well as on where and how they can be addressed in the best way. To this end, Anand Mahindra (Chairman, Mahindra Group) and myself jointly co-chair the High-Level Commission on Carbon Pricing and Competitiveness, supported by the World Bank Group. The work of this Commission will provide business and government leaders with new insights, thanks to a combination of strategic dialogue and new analysis.

We must enhance our collective ambition as well as our individual responsibilities to deliver on it.

Thank you."