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CEC: companies on the climate front

After the citizens of the Citizens' Climate Convention, it is now the turn of business leaders to mobilize for the reduction of carbon emissions, through the Business Climate Convention (BCC). Together, they want to build a new economic model that respects life.

This is "a huge challenge", says Frédéric Daniel, Director of Development at Reforest'Action, one of the companies participating in the CEC. The newly formed Businesses for Climate Convention aims to issue roadmaps for businesses to help them meet the French and European commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030.

During one year, from Thursday, September 9, 2021 to Saturday, June 18, 2022, in several French cities, 150 leaders will meet six times for two-day exchange and work sessions.

The members are volunteers and selected by the CEC to best represent the French economy. Among them are industry giants such as Renault Trucks, but also the brewer Pietra, the Lyon professional rugby club and Daniel Hechter. Above all, many start-ups and SMEs with a mission or already committed to the fight for the climate, such as Faguo, the first French fashion brand to have adopted the status of company with a mission. "Faguo exists to engage its generation against climate change and this convention has the same hope," says its co-founder, Frédéric Mugnier.

Together, they represent 250,000 employees and more than 36 billion euros in sales.

Taking over the Citizens' Convention

Inspired by the closing speech of the Citizen's Climate Convention, Eric Duverger, an executive at Michelin, understands the need to move the lines at the corporate level. It all started with "a personal realization that classic CSR will not be enough to reverse the curves," he explains. According to him, the Citizens' Convention set up by President Macron sent a message to companies: they must take over. He then laid the foundations of the CEC, an independent and non-partisan association under the French law of 1901, which today has more than 70 volunteers.

Unlike the Citizens' Convention, the CEC is a spontaneous initiative, not sponsored by the head of state. "The first mission of the CEC is to place businesses at the heart of the transition, in order to resolve the dissonance between ecological collapse and economic priorities," explains Eric Duverger.

To do this, the Convention imagines three steps: first, the participating companies must be redirected, thanks to the 150 roadmaps developed with them. Then, the participants must become "standard bearers of the environmental transition of the company. " The goal?" To create a ripple effect and a multiplication of the initiative, both regional and sectoral," adds Eric Duverger.

Power of example

The CEC can have "the strength of action that the Citizens' Climate Convention lacked", says Guillaume Fraty, one of the 150 citizens of the Citizens' Convention, who is volunteering for the CEC again.

While the proposals of the Citizens' Climate Convention have been largely scaled back by the government, the CEC can act on its own. We are masters of our own destiny," agrees Frédéric Daniel. The 150 citizens were there to inspire a government that was free to listen to them, to apply or not. For us, it is radically different: we do things. "Like Éric Duverger, he is convinced of the CEC's power to set an example: "We have the capacity to influence and act on other companies. "A capacity to influence that is also recognised at Faguo: "It would be a great message if the 150 members of CEC could start to move towards becoming a 'company with a mission'... that would help to transform the world", Frédéric Mugnier imagines.

A "slap in the face

On Thursday, September 9, 2021, at ESTP Paris (Cachan campus, Val-de-Marne) and following the example of the Citizen's Convention, the first session of the Business Convention, "The state of play and the world after", is opened by Valérie Masson-Delmotte. Valérie Masson-Delmotte is the co-chair of Group 1 of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). She discusses the latest IPCC report, published in the middle of a summer 2021 marked by natural disasters: the aim is to inflict a "climate slap" on leaders.

Frédéric Daniel admits to having felt "a lot of pressure" and "dejection", before also mentioning a general enthusiasm among the participants. He notes "a unanimous, shared and equivalent commitment" on the part of all, regardless of their size or the progress of their action plans.

For his part, Frédéric Mugnier testifies to "an incredible energy that is being released", even if after the observation, "we must get to the heart of the matter. "For him, the CEC must draw up "a clear plan of action both for the 150 participating companies, but also to raise awareness in the rest of the economic world. "

At Reforest'Action, we also approve of this idea. The size of the movement will determine its success," says Frédéric Daniel. What is important to me is that we manage to instigate, inspire and ensure that these sectoral roadmaps are adopted by a maximum number of companies. The real success is the great transformation of the whole economy. "The leader is categorical: "A company cannot live on a war zone". The CEC participants have only five sessions left to tackle this ambitious challenge: the next one, entitled "New Course", will be held from Wednesday 20 to Friday 22 October 2021.

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