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Nestle, Volvo among 130 companies urging COP28 agreement to ditch fossil fuels

FILE PHOTO: Nestle's logo is seen at a plant in Konolfingen, Switzerland

By Tommy Wilkes

LONDON (Reuters) - Companies including Nestle, Unilever, Mahindra Group and Volvo Cars are urging political leaders to agree a timeline at the upcoming U.N. climate summit to phase out fossil fuels.

The 131 companies, which have nearly $1 trillion in global annual revenues, wrote in a letter published on Monday that attendees at the COP28 summit must commit to reach 100% decarbonised power systems by 2035 for richer economies, and help developing countries financially so they can ditch fossil fuels by 2040 at the latest.

"Our businesses are feeling the impacts and cost of increasing extreme weather events resulting from climate change," the companies wrote in the letter, which was coordinated by the non-profit We Mean Business Coalition, which is pushing for greater climate action globally.

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"To decarbonise the global energy system, we need to ramp up clean energy as fast as we phase out the use and production of fossil fuels," they wrote.

The letter's 131 signatories, which include Bayer, Heineken, IKEA and Iberdrola, span a range of sectors and include multinationals and small and medium-sized businesses.

Companies are increasingly committing to their own timelines for reducing their emissions, but many acknowledge that their ability to slow planet-warming CO2 emissions is contingent on faster action from governments.

COP28 begins in Dubai on Nov. 30 against a backdrop of more scientists warning that the world is not on course to avoid the worst impacts of climate change by meeting the goals of the 2015 Paris accord, which committed countries to limit global temperature rises to 1.5 degrees Celsius (34.7°F) from pre-industrial levels.

The speed at which countries should phase out fossil fuels will be one of the thorniest issues.

Calls from Europe and elsewhere to stop burning CO2-emitting fuels will run into the arguments of the world's biggest fossil fuel producers, consumers, as well as poorer nations that say they cannot cut CO2 emissions fast enough without significantly more financial support from wealthy nations.

(Reporting by Tommy Reggiori Wilkes; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)