Corporate climate advocacy in action as business stands ready to deliver US NDC increaseMaría Mendiluce, CEO of the We Mean Business coalition
Corporate America has helped to achieve a historic victory for climate ambition in the U.S., as the Biden administration responds to a resounding call to increase the country’s climate plan – unlocking the path for accelerated business action on climate.
In response to calls from the private sector, investors, scientists, states, cities and citizens for climate ambition, U.S. President Joe Biden announced at today’s Leaders Summit on Climate an increase to the country’s 2030 emission reduction target – its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) – to 50-52% below 2005 levels – returning the country to a position of climate leadership.
The updated target picks up the pace of emissions reductions in the United States, while supporting President Biden’s existing goals to create a carbon-free power sector by 2035 and net–zero emissions economy by no later than 2050, as part of a ‘whole-society’ approach to tackling the climate crisis.
Reaching the goals will create millions of good jobs as well as improving the health and well-being of communities and driving competitiveness in the economy when it needs it most – in the wake of the devastating impact of Covid-19.
As this new goal is translated into state and city level plans during this vital decade of delivery, policy makers and businesses can work together to ensure the benefits of the transition are maximized for workers and communities.
“We want the hundreds of thousands of jobs we’re creating to be good paying jobs for workers, open to union labor organizing. We want to make sure that we are creating communities where workers have the ability to stay there and raise kids there and have a decent retirement there,” Jennifer Granholm, U.S. Energy Secretary, said during a panel event.
The NDC update follows an open letter to President Biden organized by the We Mean Business coalition and Ceres and signed by over 400 businesses and investors with a footprint in the United States, to at least halve emissions by 2030. The letter gave the administration the strong backing from the private sector to ensure its climate plans are bold enough to tackle the escalating climate crisis.
The signatories include some of the largest companies in the U.S. – Apple, Facebook, Amazon, McDonald’s, Google, Nike and Starbucks – and represent over $4 trillion in annual revenue and employ over 7 million U.S. workers across all 50 states.
Business backs bold climate policies
These companies back bold climate policies because they know the transition to a zero-carbon economy is good for business, will help the country build back better from the economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic and deliver good jobs.
With this clear guidance from the Biden administration, all businesses can now go further and faster with their own climate plans. The private sector is ready and willing to work towards the ‘whole of society’ approach on climate change, to deliver this transformation at the speed and scale required across every state.
The move will unlock a wave of investment from the private sector, helping to build the infrastructure and drive the innovation needed for the transition. Companies and investors at the forefront of this seismic shift are already benefiting with growth opportunities and new markets.
A handful of these companies were convened at a special event organised by Ceres and the We Mean Business coalition during US Climate Action Week, hosted by The Climate Group. These leaders from Apple, IKEA, LafargeHolcim, Ørsted and Siemens took part in a cross-sector panel conversation with U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm.
The panel – Climate Leaders Hour: Business Meets Government – moderated by Justin Worland, Senior Correspondent at TIME, highlighted ways for governments to accelerate business climate action, and where businesses and governments could collaborate in the fight against climate change.
“In order to catalyse business, we need governments to lead and set strong policies – that’s just what the science says. The science is clear, we need governments to be clear that this moment is about embracing science-based policies, to embrace carbon neutrality,” Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives, said during the panel.
“I think business’ job of course, is to show what’s possible in the business context,” she added.
Mads Nipper, CEO of Ørsted, highlighted during the panel the benefits of clear climate policies, as evidenced by the shift to renewable energy in Europe.
“We’ve turned around from being one of the most fossil-fuel intensive utilities in Europe to now having almost 90% of our energy generated from renewable energy. And that has been made possible in this wonderful interplay between ambitious politicians and a business that is ready and has the courage to act on that,” Nipper said.
All countries can harness the momentum
As the economic benefits of transitioning to a net-zero carbon economy become increasingly clear, now is the time for all countries to harness the momentum of climate action and increase their NDC to be aligned with the 1.5ºC trajectory.
During recent months, a host of the world’s biggest economies have stepped up their climate plans, with the EU, Japan and South Korea committing to net-zero 2050, while China has committed to reach carbon neutrality before 2060.
Just this week, the UK built on its net-zero by 2050 commitment and enhanced NDC by committing to cut greenhouse gas emissions 68% by the end of the decade, compared to 1990 levels. The EU has reached a provisional agreement to increase its net GHG emissions target to at least 55% by 2030, setting the bloc on course to be the first climate neutral continent by 2050. And the Philippines is revising up its target to cut GHG emissions to a 75% reduction by 2030.
At the signing of the Paris Agreement in 2015, these moves would have seemed unimaginable. But today, what is being called the ‘race to zero’ underlines how countries are viewing climate action as a catalyst for progress, not a hindrance.
Countries and regions that align their plans with the 1.5ºC trajectory will be the ones that stand to build back better from the current economic turmoil, grow jobs and attract business investment. Countries that stick to outdated and polluting technologies not only risk further health impacts to their citizens but also risk losing competitiveness in the global shift to net-zero emissions.