MORE than 200 businesses have joined a call for an international agreement to phase out all fossil fuels at COP28 including WH Smith, DHL, Coca-Cola Europacific Partners and Virgin Media O2.

The companies are among the most recent to sign an open letter urging world leaders to agree a timeline to ditch unabated fossil fuels at the UN climate summit in Dubai, starting on Thursday.

It is thought to be the first time such a large group of companies have come together to urge governments to move away from fossil fuels.

The letter, spearheaded by the We Mean Business Coalition, was first published last month signed by 130 companies, with plans for it to be be formally handed to COP28 president Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber at the summit.

READ MORE: Scottish independence poll: 54% back Yes in new Ipsos survey

On the eve of summit, the list of backers has grown to 204 firms, which together represent more than 1.5 trillion dollars (£1.2tr) in annual revenue.

Sony, Roche, Tetra Pak, EON and Zara-owner Inditex signed the letter more recently, joining Ikea, Volvo Cars, eBay, Heineken, BT, AstraZeneca, Vodafone, Nestle, Unilever and many more that had already pledged their support.

The letter called on world leaders to set clear targets and timelines for phasing down and out unabated fossil fuels, alongside policies enabling the tripling of renewable electricity and doubling of energy efficiency.

The National: Greece Forest Fire

Signatories warned they “are feeling the impacts and cost of increasing extreme weather events resulting from climate change”.

The letter said: “We recognise the need to transition in a way that safeguards our future collective prosperity on a liveable planet.

“That means reducing our emissions, adopting clean solutions and reducing our use of fossil fuels to limit global heating in line with the Paris Agreement’s ultimate goal of 1.5C.”

The signatories are also urging financial institutions to work collaboratively to ensure that capital is being allocated to accelerate the clean energy transition, creating a financial system that safeguards future growth and returns for people and planet.

They are calling on fossil fuel producers to set science-based, net-zero targets and to develop transition plans as well as shift investments towards clean energy.

The letter also demands governments set the enabling conditions, policies, regulations and investments for a just clean energy transition.

Maria Mendiluce, chief executive of the We Mean Business Coalition, said: “If governments are serious about giving our children a stable planet where people and economies work and thrive, we need to be very serious about managing the phase-in of clean solutions – tripling of renewables and doubling energy efficiency by 2030 – and the phase-out of fossil fuels by the 2040s.”

READ MORE: BBC announces major cuts to flagship programme Newsnight

Jesper Brodin, chief executive of Ingka Group/Ikea, said: “Together with hundreds of companies we have signed the Fossil to Clean letter asking our world leaders to take the political responsibility and reach an agreement on phasing out fossil fuels at COP28.

“This is the most important decade to take big steps, with speed, toward achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement.”

Joe Franses, vice president of sustainability at Coca-Cola Europacific Partners, said: “The world is not decarbonising fast enough. That’s why we’re calling for ambitious action to rapidly scale clean energy solutions, to help businesses transition from fossil fuels and meet net zero targets.”

Anders Karrberg, global head of sustainability at Volvo Cars said: “We know that phasing out fossil fuels is the only way forward if we are to limit global warming and keep people safe from climate catastrophe.

“But businesses cannot do this alone. Together with We Mean Business Coalition, Volvo Cars calls on all parties attending Cop28 to seek outcomes that will lay the groundwork to transform the global energy system towards a full phase-out of unabated fossil fuels.”