As world leaders prepare to meet in Paris for the UN conference on climate change, the International Co-operative Alliance is urging them to adopt effective and ambitious measures against climate change. In November the Alliance’s General Assembly adopted a motion highlighting that co-operatives are sustainable enterprises that play an important role in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.
The COP21 statement, presented at the General Assembly in Antalya, Turkey, explains how the contribution of co-operatives has already been recognised in in several global policy initiatives, such as the Rio+20 outcome document, the Financing for Development Outcome Document and the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
“Co-operatives are active in many sectors of the economy, such as agriculture, retail, insurance, housing, banking and energy, among others, and can therefore be a vehicle to implement the Sustainable Development Goals across different fields, the fight against climate change included.
“The International Co-operative Alliance has urged its members to continue and step up their initiatives to fight climate change,” reads the document.
The Alliance includes members of more than 2.5m co-operative enterprises across the world that provide for the livelihood of 250m people, some of whom they directly employ.
“The International Co-operative Alliance urges the heads of state and government, present in Paris for the COP21, to agree to effective and ambitious measures against climate change and to take into consideration the co-operative movement as a partner in their implementation,” reads the statement.
The declaration has been sent to Laurent Fabius, French Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development and President of the COP21.
Jean-Louis Bancel, who presented the statement at the General Assembly in Antalya, is joining the COP21 French delegation in Paris. There he will make the case for co-operatives to be mentioned as important advocates in the implementation of policies designed to address climate change.
“Co-ops should be considered as a way of implementing national energy projects for climate change,” he said. The declaration was designed to inform the global movement about the role co-operatives can play in addressing climate change as well as encourage co-ops from all over the world to get involved in the process.
Mr Bancel, who presides over Crédit Cooperatif, is also the chair of Coop FR, the French national umbrella organisation for co-operatives. Crédit Cooperatif is part of the board of Social and Solidarity Enterprises, a voluntary group of different social economy advocates in France. The group has recently launched a new initiative asking all members to get involved in tackling climate change.
“Climate change is not only a question for governments, but for the social economy sector as well,” said Jean-Louis Bancel, adding that the civil society also needed to be part of the process. The campaign, launched two weeks ago, has already attracted 100 social economy players. The aim is to get 1,000 organisations signing up to the pledge to engage in the transition to renewable energy. The enterprises are also promising to invest in renewable energy projects that aim to empower citizens.
According to Mr Bancel, the group is planning to reduce its energy consumption by 20% over the next three years. Another objective set out is to invest over €520m in renewable energy projects in 2015.
Access to capital remains a barrier when it comes to developing energy projects, said Mr Bancel. This leads back to the work of the International Co-operative Alliance on co-operative capital and capital requirements, he added.
“At European Union level we are trying to find a way for energy co-ops to connect with initiatives launched by the European Commission, to make some investment in the future and we are going to work with the new EU network of energy co-ops – REScoop and to find a way for them to get access to the European Union Investment Bank,” said Jean-Louis Bancel.
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