Business makes its voice heard in calling for a stronger U.S. NDC
In early 2021, as the U.S. re-joined the Paris Agreement, businesses and investors with a footprint in the country joined together to urge President Joe Biden to send a strong signal of intent on climate action. It’s an example of business driving progress by clearly and confidently making the case for rapid decarbonization policies at the national level.
“We support the Biden Administration in their dedication to tackling climate and now we need to raise the bar. We urge the US to adopt the ambitious target of cutting GHG emissions by at least 50% below 2005 levels by 2030.” – Badar Khan, President, National Grid
The USA’s first Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) to the Paris Agreement, set in 2016, pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 26-28% from 2005 levels by 2025. With Biden in the White House and ahead of the United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP26), the publication of its revised NDC was a key opportunity for the USA to reaffirm global leadership by upping its ambition.
However, news emerged that the revised target could be as low as 35%. As the world’s highest emitter historically, a minimum target of 50% was essential to keep the goal of 1.5°C alive. Together with Ceres and its other partners, the We Mean Business Coalition mobilized the business community to join the calls for more rapid action.
An open letter published on April 13 2021 was signed by 408 businesses and investors representing $3 trillion in annual revenue, nearly six million workers across all 50 states and over $1 trillion in assets under management.
From Ford, to Salesforce, to Walmart, major businesses across industries agreed that to achieve a net zero future, kickstart the economy and create jobs, a 50% reduction in emissions by 2030 was the only viable course.
“If you raise the bar on our national ambition, we will raise our own ambition to move the US forward on this journey. While an effective national climate strategy will require all of us, you alone can set the course by swiftly establishing a bold US 2030 target.” – Letter signed by 408 businesses and investors
The letter was instantly picked up in the media. A day after publication, U.S. Climate Envoy John Kerry referenced it in a CNN interview:
“When you have major companies… urging major cuts in emissions… that’s an economic movement that no one politician is going to be able to change.” – John Kerry, U.S. Climate Envoy
One week later, President Biden announced that the new target for 2030 would be a 50-52% reduction. This new NDC was signed well ahead of COP26, sending a sign of encouragement to other national delegations.
Businesses must clearly and confidently make the case for rapid decarbonization policies at the international, national, sub-national and sectoral levels, and not lobby against them. This helps drive the ‘ambition loop’: growing corporate action spurs governments to set stronger policies that help businesses achieve their climate goals faster.
Making your voice heard on climate as a business is one of the most effective ways to drive progress. It’s time to publicly advocate for bold science-based climate policies, and to call out those that obstruct the 1.5°C pathway.