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Driving demand for climate action

Market forces come together to promote low-carbon technology investment.

Members of a global buyers’ club, made up of over 50 corporations and nine countries representing more than 40% of global gross domestic product, have pledged to switch to materials made from processes that produce little to no carbon.

This news was announced Wednesday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

At the 2014 forum, all climate-related panels took place in tents outside the main conference area. This year climate change has taken center stage and made up a third of panel discussion topics, according to Kiana van Waes, corporate sustainability analyst at Convoy.

“It’s really exciting to know that climate change is at the forefront this year,” she said.

The companies — whose market cap represents about $8.5 trillion globally — have sent the largest market signal in history to commercialize emerging clean technologies by making unprecedented demand commitments by 2030 for hard-to-abate sectors including steel, aluminum, shipping, trucking and aviation.

The buyers’ club, known as the First Movers Coalition, is designed to increase overall demand for green versions of materials that have been known to cause significant carbon dioxide emissions in the manufacturing process.

“This is exciting news for the industry — knowing that investments are actually being made in this effort to lower carbon-emitting technologies,” van Waes said. “We’ve really seen a wave of many companies in multiple countries signing pledges and committing to net-zero targets. However, there has been a lot of criticism around how we are going to ensure that we are funding these lower-carbon technologies — this is that next step.”

Several members of the First Movers Coalition are already taking steps toward innovation in low-carbon technology and have announced orders for zero-carbon ships and electric trucks. Because of the demand, more funding will be needed “across all challenge areas to enable breakthrough innovations and trigger sectoral tipping points, whilst also supporting commercially ready technologies to scale up over the next decade,” according to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

Van Waes said U.S. companies have to make greater strides to catch up to their European counterparts’ green efforts. 

“Europe has a much more green grid across the entire continent. They have been on this journey a lot longer than we have,” van Waes said. “When it comes to these types of [green] technologies, the States have always been a little behind. I think it should be inspiring to us to follow along.”

Britni Chisenall

Britni Chisenall is a sponsored content writer for FreightWaves. She lives in Ooltewah, TN with her husband, Garrett and her cat, Lily. Britni is a graduate of Dalton State College.