Companies commit to set 1.5°C climate targets aligned with a net-zero future

  • 24 July 2019

21 companies with a combined market cap of over US$1.3 trillion step up to a new level of climate ambition.

21 companies with a total market capitalization of over US$1.3 trillion are stepping up to set a new level of climate ambition in response to a call-to-action ahead of the UN Climate Action Summit on 23 September.

The companies have committed themselves to more ambitious climate targets aligned with limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and reaching net-zero emissions by no later than 2050.

First movers include Acciona, AstraZeneca, Banka BioLoo, BT, Dalmia Cement, Eco-Steel Africa, Enel, Mahindra Group, Natura &Co, Novozymes, KLP, Royal DSM, SAP, Signify, Singtel, Telefonica, Telia,Unilever, Vodafone Group and Zurich Insurance, among others, collectively representing over one million employees from 17 sectors and more than 16 countries.

Of the 28 companies, AstraZeneca, BT, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Levi Strauss & Co., SAP, Signify and Unilever already have 1.5°C-aligned reduction targets covering greenhouse gas emissions from their operations.

“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 1.5°C-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 commitments of the 28 companies support the most recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which warned of catastrophic consequences should global warming exceed 1.5°C.

“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,” said Ambassador Luis Alfonso de Alba, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Climate Action Summit who recently helped to launch ICC’s Chambers Climate Coalition at the World Chambers Congress in Rio.

“It is very encouraging to see these climate leaders in the global business community takingaction, 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.”

Building a prosperous, net-zero carbon economy by 2050 requires both business leadership and ambitious government policies. By setting policies and targets in line with a 1.5°C trajectory, governments give business the clarity and confidence to invest decisively in the zero-carbon economies of the future.

The companies raising the bar for corporate climate ambition are committed to setting science-based targets through the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), which independently assesses corporate emissions reduction targets against the latest climate science. To date, 600 of the world’s largest businesses are setting science-based greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets aligned with the Paris Agreement. In April 2019, the SBTi released new target validation resources to enable companies to set targets consistent with 1.5°C.

“The science is clear: To limit the catastrophic impacts of climate change, we must ensure warming does not exceed 1.5°C. The ambition is high, but it’s achievable — and science-based targets give companies a roadmap for getting there,” said Paul Simpson, SBTi Board Member and CEO of CDP. “We urge all companies to seize this chance to align their business with a 1.5°C future and drive forward the transition to a net-zero carbon economy.”

The historic call-to-action issued in June came in the form of an open letter addressed to business leaders and signed by 25 global leaders, including International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Chairman and IMAGINE Co-Founder Paul Polman, ICC Secretary General John W.H. Denton AO, María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, President of the UN General Assembly, Lise Kingo, CEO and Executive Director of the UN Global Compact, Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Christiana Figueres, Co-Founder of Global Optimism.

“Climate Action is everyone’s business and this response demonstrates the ability of the private sector to act with agility and urgency when it comes to global challenges,” said ICC Secretary General John W.H. Denton AO. “But more must be done, which is why ICC will continue to mobilise the global business and chamber of commerce communities behind the 1.5°C target and additional climate goal of net-zero emissions in the lead up to the Climate Action Summit and beyond.”

Ambitious CEOs who commit their companies to a 1.5°C trajectory in support of a net-zero future will be recognized at the UN Global Compact’s Private Sector Forum as part of the UN Climate Action Summit.

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