28 Companies Set New Level of Climate Ambition

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres. Photo: UN
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres. Photo: UN

Twenty-eight companies with a total market capitalization of $1.3 trillion are stepping up to set a new level of climate ambition in response to a call-to-action campaign 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 Ltd., Eco-Steel Africa Ltd., Enel, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Iberdrola, KLP, Levi Strauss & Co., Mahindra Group, Natura & Co, Novozymes, Royal DSM, SAP, Signify, Singtel, Telefonica, Telia, Unilever, Vodafone Group PLC, and Zurich Insurance, amongst others, collectively representing over one million employees from 17 sectors and more than 16 countries.

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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.

The commitments of the 28 companies heed 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. “It is very encouraging to see these climate leaders in the global business community taking action.”

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.

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 on 23 September.

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Rakesh Raman