By J Nastranis
NEW YORK (IDN) – In the run-up to the UN Climate Action Summit on September 23, twenty-eight leading companies have responded to a call-to-action campaign and committed themselves to limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels with a view to reaching net-zero emissions by no later than 2050. In doing so, they are contributing to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), endorsed by the international community in September 2015.
The commitment will benefit SDG 1 (end poverty in all its forms everywhere), SDG 2 (zero hunger), SDG 5 (achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls), SDG 13 (take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts), SDG 16 (promote just, peaceful and inclusive societies) and SDG 17 (revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development).
The companies’ pledge heeds the most recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which warns of catastrophic consequences should global warming exceed 1.5°C. They are challenging Governments to match their ambition.
Together these companies have a market capitalization of $1.3 trillion. They are members of the United Nations Global Compact announced by then UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in an address to the World Economic Forum on January 31, 1999, and officially launched at UN Headquarters in New York on July 26, 2000.
The Global Compact Office works on the basis of a mandate set out by the UN General Assembly as an organization that “promotes responsible business practices and UN values among the global business community and the UN System.”
The UN Global Compact is a founding member of the United Nations Sustainable Stock Exchanges (SSE) initiative along with the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP-FI), and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
Among the first companies to commit themselves to the ambitious climate target are: 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 Ds SM, SAP, Signify, Singtel, Telefonica, Telia, Unilever, Vodafone Group PLC and Zurich Insurance. Collectively, they represent over one million employees from 17 sectors and more than 16 countries.
According to a press release by the UN Global Compact, the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) and the We Mean Business coalition, 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.
“Climate leadership has never been more important than it is right now, and it is inspiring to see so many diverse companies and brands boldly raising their ambitions,” said Lise Kingo, CEO and Executive Director of the UN Global Compact.
“Leading companies are already proving that 1.5°C-compliant climate targets are possible, and I encourage all businesses to seize this opportunity to position themselves at the forefront of this movement and contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.”
“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, both to help tackle the climate emergency and because taking climate action presents huge opportunities for early movers. By sending strong market signals, these companies are showing Governments that they need to urgently ramp up their national plans in line with the latest climate science,” added Ambassador de Alba.
Building a prosperous, net-zero carbon economy by 2050 requires both business leadership and ambitious Government policies. 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.
The companies raising the bar for corporate climate ambition are committed to setting science-based targets through the Science Based Targets initiative, 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.
“The science is clear: To limit the catastrophic impacts of climate change, we must ensure warming does not exceed 1.5°C. The ambition is high, but it’s achievable — and science-based targets give companies a roadmap for getting there,” said Paul Simpson, SBTi Board Member and CEO of CDP.
“We urge all companies to seize this chance to align their business with a 1.5°C future and drive forward the transition to a net-zero carbon economy,” he added.
The historic call-to-action issued in June came in the form of an open letter addressed to business leaders and signed by 25 global leaders, including María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, President of the UN General Assembly, Lise Kingo, CEO and Executive Director of the UN Global Compact, Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Christiana Figueres, Co-Founder of Global Optimism, John Denton, Secretary-General of the International Chamber of Commerce, and SDG Advocate Paul Polman, Co-Founder of IMAGINE.
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. [IDN-InDepthNews – 29 July 2019]
Graphic credit: UN Global Compact
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