COP21
A protest against further pollution and climate change in Los AngelesGetty

As world leaders come together in Paris to discuss the future of the planet at the Climate Conference, heads also turn towards businesses and their role in terms of sustainability. Climate change is one of the biggest issues on the agenda of ethical businesses.

Although big corporations are often seen as the evil engine behind climate change and pollution, businesses are actually urging governments to take action on the issue. On 28 November, a list of big UK companies, including retailers such as Tesco and Marks & Spencer, called on Prime Minister David Cameron to act on the current situation of pollution and climate change.

"When Britain's leading businesses tell David Cameron that backing clean energy makes business sense, he should listen," Greenpeace UK senior energy campaigner Barbara Stoll said in a statement. "Green jobs and firms have already been lost because of incoherent government policies, but now concerns are spreading far beyond the energy sector."

Greenpeace, together with several big UK companies, has urged more clarity and a long-term plan on clean energy. The organisations accuse governments worldwide of not having a clear strategy, saying that the climate summit in France is the perfect opportunity to consider the role of businesses in the change for a cleaner planet.

Businesses have come under increasing pressure to scale back their emissions and pollution, especially the hype in Silicon Valley for new companies to be sustainable. Greenpeace itself has protested against Shell and other energy companies because of their contribution to global emissions.

However, UK business representative body the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has ensured activists that British business fully supports the world leaders trying to reach an agreement on climate change policies.

"We all know there is no easy answer to climate change," said Rhian Kelly, director of business environment policy at the CBI. "But business and industry are part of the solution – developing innovative new products and services, and leading the way in cutting emissions, to propel us towards a low carbon future."

Businesses are keen know the framework and the details of the agreement made in Paris this week and what consequences they will have for businesses around the world. The actions world leaders are taking to battle climate change may well offer great opportunities for businesses as well.

"So much effort has been put into agreeing frameworks ready for Paris, we simply cannot afford to fall at the last hurdle, and delay a lasting, global plan for climate action," Kelly said. "All businesses, especially energy-intensive industries, will be looking for an international deal which helps create a level playing field, and that keeps the UK competitive."