As UN Secretary General calls on governments to deliver carbon neutral plans, over 25 of the world’s largest companies will today announce net zero emissions goals
An alliance of over 25 global companies with a combined market capitalisation of $1.2tr are to set ambitious new greenhouse gas emissions goals to bring themselves into line with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5C temperature threshold.
The UN Global Compact, We Mean Business coalition of green corporates, and the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) today issued a joint statement confirming the number of large companies publicly committing to become net zero emission operations by 2050 will increase more than seven-fold in the coming months.
The move came just hours after it emerged that UN Secretary General António Guterres has written to every head of state calling on them to set out plans to ensure carbon neutrality by mid-century.
The letter sets out expectations for the next crucial UN climate meeting in September, where only the countries that have delivered the boldest emission reductions plans are expected to be invited to speak in a high profile plenary session.
Climate Home News reported that the letter calls on governments to provide “a brief summary or an indication of the plans” they are expecting to bring to the summit by 7 August. Guterres added that he had previously “asked all leaders to come to the Summit ready to announce the plans that they will set next year to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for 2030 and to achieve net zero emissions by 2050”.
Meanwhile, parts of the global business community are today similarly hoping to crank up pressure on government’s to deliver ambitious net zero plans.
Around 600 of the world’s largest companies have already signed up to the SBTi, which requires corporations to submit emissions targets that are in line with the Paris Agreement’s over-arching goal of keeping global temperature increases below 2C. The targets are then independently verified as being sufficiently ambitious by a scientific panel, with over 230 companies to date having had their targets approved by SBTi.
However, to date only a handful of companies have put forward more ambitious targets that extend beyond 2030 and are in line with the Paris Agreement’s stretch target to keep temperature increases below 1.5C. That select cohort – which includes telco giant BT, business software powerhouse SAP, and clothing brand Levi Strauss & Co – is now set to expand drastically in the coming months with up to 27 firms now pledging to submit new 1.5C targets.
The list of new businesses to make the pledge including Acciona, AstraZeneca, Banka BioLoo, Dalmia Cement Ltd., Eco-Steel Africa Ltd., Enel, Mahindra Group, Natura &Co, KLP, Royal DSM, Signify, Singtel, Telefonica, Telia, Unilever, Vodafone Group PLC, and Zurich Insurance, amongst others.
The move comes in direct response to Guterres’ calls for both political and business leaders to attend climate summit in New York on 23rd September and bring with them a series of more ambitious climate goals.
The UK and France, amongst others, are expected to tout their new net zero targets at the summit and the hope is that an expanding battalion of corporate leaders will confirm similar targets.
“Climate leadership has never been more important than it is right now, and it is inspiring to see so many diverse companies and brands boldly raising their ambitions,” said Lise Kingo, CEO and Executive Director of the UN Global Compact. “Leading companies are already proving that 1.5C-compliant climate targets are possible, and I encourage all businesses to seize this opportunity to position themselves at the forefront of this movement and contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.”
The move follows the official launch in April of a new validation process from SBTi, designed to assess whether emissions targets are in line with the 1.5C goal.
Paul Simpson, SBTi Board Member and CEO of investor-backed climate disclosure body CDP, said there was growing evidence that more ambitious climate targets could unlock a raft of benefits for leading businesses.
“The science is clear: to limit the catastrophic impacts of climate change, we must ensure warming does not exceed 1.5C,” he said. “The ambition is high, but it’s achievable – and science-based targets give companies a roadmap for getting there. We urge all companies to seize this chance to align their business with a 1.5C future and drive forward the transition to a net-zero carbon economy.”
His comments were echoed by Ambassador Luis Alfonso de Alba, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Climate Action Summit, who urged more governments and businesses to urgently take steps to strengthen their own emissions goals.
“The UN Secretary-General has called on leaders to come to the Climate Action Summit in September with clear plans for major cuts to emissions on the pathway to a zero-net emissions economy by 2050,” he said. “It is very encouraging to see these climate leaders in the global business community taking action, both to help tackle the climate emergency and because taking climate action presents huge opportunities for early movers. By sending strong market signals, these companies are showing Governments that they need to urgently ramp up their national plans in line with the latest climate science.”
Source: – Business Green