Climate ambition means aiming high, and having a plan you’re proud to shareJenny Ahlen, Net Zero Director, We Mean Business Coalition
As we head into New York Climate Week 2022, the number of companies committed to climate action is higher than ever. Yet scrutiny of potential greenwashing and whether net-zero commitments are translating into action is also at an all-time high. Within this context, how can a company ensure its climate ambition is credible, factors in people, nature and the whole value chain, and is disclosed in the form investors and other stakeholders want to see?
To answer these questions and help more companies confidently steer a course to climate leadership, the We Mean Business Coalition has created a new step-by-step guide, The 4 A’s of Climate Leadership. Covering climate ambition, action, advocacy and accountability, it brings together best-in-class resources and initiatives from our partners and collaborators. With new initiatives being launched all the time, it aims to help businesses filter through the noise and prioritize what they need to do in order to lead on climate. It is also a framework for what ‘good’ looks like to enable customers, investors and shareholders to better understand whether companies are keeping their promises.
When it comes to the first ‘A’ – Ambition, climate leaders set the bar high with net-zero 1.5°C-aligned targets, including near-term targets for deep, rapid emissions cuts. Any business starting out on this road will be in good company. Some 3,627 companies now have science-based targets with SBTi, with an increasing number approved under the Net Zero Standard. More companies have committed to go faster too, with 322 signatories to The Climate Pledge committing to reach net zero by 2040 – ten years earlier than the 2050 net zero target required by the Paris Agreement.
It isn’t just what emissions you commit to cut, it’s also how. There is now an expectation that businesses explicitly consider the whole supply chain, justice and adaptation into the plans they develop to meet their commitments. That means prioritizing people – via an equitable, inclusive climate transition. For instance, SSE is implementing a Just Transition strategy, which is supporting workers to make the transition from high- to low-carbon jobs.
Whether your company has a material impact on nature or not, you should factor in nature. Commit to direct engagement in the value chain, supporting suppliers to eliminate tropical deforestation, tackle agricultural emissions and scale up carbon removals. After first focusing on avoiding and reducing emissions, invest beyond the value chain in high quality carbon credits. For instance, companies including Amazon, Salesforce and Unilever are investing millions of dollars to stop tropical deforestation via The Leaf Coalition.
Incorporating these considerations means that you end up with a plan focused on the most important actions to take next, as well as the policies that need your support. For the tools and initiatives that will help you take those important actions, see Action. For guidance on how to advocate responsibly for science-based policies that will unlock investment and deliver action at scale, see Advocacy.
Once you’ve set out credible ambition that includes a plan to get there, be sure to share it. Sharing your net-zero vision shows businesses and suppliers that the shift to a low-carbon future is underway. Talking about your ambitions tells policymakers that business supports climate action and needs the necessary policies to go faster. Above all, sharing your climate plans tells customers and investors, who are increasingly looking to put their money with companies that have a more positive impact on the environment and society, that your business is resilient and ready for a net-zero world.
This brings us to the fourth ‘A’ – Accountability. Climate leaders clearly and consistently disclose plans, progress, risks and opportunities. This not only informs strategy, it is also vital to build trust among stakeholders.
The good news is that by following all the steps in The 4 A’s of Climate Leadership you will have a solid climate transition action plan in place. To help put a finer point on the most critical elements to include and disclose in your climate transition action plan, We Mean Business Coalition is working with our partners on additional guidance that will be coming out next month. Following this guidance should benefit companies demonstrating climate leadership by enabling investors and stakeholders to more easily assess what companies are doing and reward leaders.
To join the thousands of companies on the path to climate action, use The 4 A’s of Climate Leadership today to set your commitments, your plan and your vision for a net-zero world, that works for people, business, economy and the environment.