A logo is pictured at French oil and gas company Total gas station in Marseille, 11 February 2015. Photo: Jean-Paul Pelissier / Reuters

By Alister Doyle and Geert De Clercq, with additional reporting by Michel Rose and Jessica Chen; Editing by Ahmed Aboulenein and Pravin Char
21 May 2015

PARIS (Reuters) – Top European companies urged governments on Thursday to set a goal of slashing greenhouse gas emissions to net zero well before 2100, saying that going green can bring profits rather than costs.

Business leaders from global and European alliances of companies including Unilever, Total and Saint-Gobain also called for a global price on carbon emissions and a phase-out of fossil fuel subsidies.

"We want a global climate deal that achieves net zero emissions - make it happen," they said in a statement directed at almost 200 governments which are due to agree a deal to slow global warming at a summit in Paris from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11.

Net zero emissions would mean drastic cuts and imply any remaining emissions would be offset, for instance, by planting trees to soak up carbon dioxide or with yet-to-be-developed technologies to extract carbon from the air.

They said global emissions needed to peak around 2020 and reach net zero "well before the end of the century", matching advice from the U.N. panel of climate scientists, to give a good chance of limiting warming to manageable levels.

Organizers of the conference, part of efforts to build momentum for a global deal after past failures, said the statement was backed by 25 business networks representing more than 6.5 million firms in more than 130 countries.

Still, the Business and Climate Summit mainly attracted top European CEOs, while large U.S and Asian companies were notably absent.

The statement said businesses believed that a goal of net zero emissions was "compatible with continued economic growth".

"Business as usual is no longer possible," said Pierre-Andre de Chalendar, CEO of French building materials group Saint-Gobain.

Cuts in emissions can help avert economic damage from droughts, floods and rising seas, and have big benefits such as lowering air pollution that causes millions of deaths, especially in big emerging nations such as China and India, the U.N. panel says. [more]

Top EU companies urge drastic cuts in greenhouse gas emissions



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