It's week two of the United Nations Climate Change Conference — the "high-level, ministerial" portion of the talks. Officials are striving for wide-reaching agreements that commit nations to reduce fossil fuel emissions amid rising global temperatures.
While some 200 assembled countries mingle in the main conference center, known as the "Blue Zone," you may bump into Ben & Jerry's CEO Jostein Solheim offering a scoop of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream. A fun gesture, for sure. But the stakes in the climate talks are real and high for many consumer-facing companies.
From Ben & Jerry's to Mars, companies have already seen supplies of crucial ingredients like cocoa impacted by rising temperatures. "This transition to a low-carbon economy of the future is inevitable. It's going to happen," said Christopher Miller, social mission activism manager for Ben & Jerry's. "Is the U.S. going to be a leader in that transition, or will it be a laggard?" said Miller by phone from Paris.
Miller is among hundreds of U.S. business leaders, attending the Paris talks. Collectively they are pushing for a strong agreement, with some businesses including Ben & Jerry's calling for a tax on carbon emissions.
Bottom line? They're seeking an agreement to ensure future warming remains below dangerous levels. That would help secure more stable sources of key ingredients for many businesses including food giants.
"Make no mistake, many business owners fear the impact of climate change on their operations," said Richard Eidlin, vice president of policy at the American Sustainable Business Council. The advocacy group for a more sustainable economy is in Paris to make the business case for a carbon tax and other ways to cut fossil fuel emissions.
"From increased insurance costs and supply chain disruptions to the loss of entire companies due to extreme weather events, business is already feeling the cost of inaction on climate change," said Eidlin in a prepared statement.