COP25: Business delivers strong push for policy ambitionThe We Mean Business coalition
The growing group of leading businesses that have signed the 1.5ºC pledge delivered a strong push for bold climate policies at the High-Ambition Day at COP25 this week, with their commitment to unite behind the science.
The number of companies committed to the Business Ambition for 1.5°C — Our Only Future campaign has doubled to 177, since the first group of 87 pioneering companies were announced at the UN Secretary General summit in September.
The signatories have pledged to set science-based targets that align with limiting global temperature rise to a maximum of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and reaching net-zero emissions by no later than 2050 – in line with what climate scientists say is needed to meet the most ambitious goals of the Paris Agreement.
Collectively the companies have a combined market capitalization of over US$2.8 trillion and represent over 5.8 million employees, spanning 36 sectors and with headquarters in 36 countries. They are also equivalent to the annual total of France’s direct CO2 emissions.
At a press conference announcing the progress of the campaign, Paul Polman from the United Nations Global Compact, and former Unilever CEO said: “The companies that are signing the commitment are without doubt leaders in their sectors… We have companies from all sectors, including the high-emitting sectors, to actually commit to net-zero.”
“If even these companies from these tougher industries are able to do this, then it sends an enormous signal to the governments of this world… that they need to commit to more aggressive Nationally Determined Commitments (NDCs) – something that obviously is crucial for the COP26 next year in Glasgow,” he added.
Anirban Ghosh, Chief Sustainability Officer of the Mahindra Group – one of the original signatories to the Pledge – highlighted that decarbonizing is good for business.
“We’ve often been asked the question, ‘how do you manage the trade-off between climate action and growth’. And we find that taking climate action helps increase competitiveness, helps increase growth and provides jobs,” he said.
“The ambition is 1.5°C, but we cannot stop until we restore environmental balance, when emissions are lower than sequestration, when we’ve finally got carbon in the air less than 400 PPM (parts per million) once again. Until that time, we must go on and therefore we must continue to raise ambition and we must applaud the actions of those who have come forward and done so in the last months. I look forward to many more joining this business ambition for 1.5°C. “
Meanwhile, José Manuel Entrecanales, the CEO of Acciona, called for governments to make 1.5°C aligned targets mandatory for companies to sign up to and comply with, highlighting that many in the business community are not taking the same level of responsibility as the 177 pledge signatories.
He also called for the adoption of Article 6 to help deploy carbon pricing globally and increased transparency for emissions reduction accounting from companies.
“Carbon pricing can really work as a carrot and as a signal to those who are already productive and work as a stick for those who aren’t,” he said.
The announcement at COP25 represents the major business contribution to the Climate Ambition Alliance: a growing multi-stakeholder group convened by the COP25 Chilean Presidency that brings together countries, businesses, investors, cities and regions working towards achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.
The news also comes on the occasion of the annual High-level Meeting of Caring for Climate, convened by the UN Global Compact, UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and UN Environment.
The latest cohort of companies joining the Business Ambition for 1.5°C campaign includes International Airlines Group (IAG) – owner of Spanish airline Iberia and British Airways, car rental firm Europcar Mobility Group and construction firms Landsec and Multiplex Construction Europe.
The 177 companies are joined by a group of investors managing close to US$4 trillion in assets who have committed to converting their investment portfolios to net-zero emissions by 2050 through the UN-convened Net Zero Asset Owner Alliance, in addition to over 50 companies in the fashion industry that have committed to align with a 1.5ºC future through the Fashion Pact.
With this announcement, these companies are leading the way in creating a positive feedback loop known as an “ambition loop” — with Government policies and private sector leadership reinforcing each other and together taking climate action to the next level. Ambitious corporate action helps to send strong market signals and should give governments confidence to urgently ramp up their national climate plans, including Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and long-term strategies, in line with the latest climate science. 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.
“We are quickly nearing our last opportunity to be on the right side of history. The climate emergency is already disrupting people, business operations, economies and ecosystems around the world,” said Lise Kingo, CEO and Executive Director of the UN Global Compact, one of the Science Based Targets initative partners.
“As countries prepare to enhance their national climate action plans next year, business leaders have a critical role to play in challenging Governments to urgently match their climate ambitions. We need all businesses to be activists for our only future.”
All companies that haven’t yet done so are encourage to sign the pledge, find out more here >