Biggest US corporates setting ambitious climate targets: new report

Author:
William Brittlebank
Reading time: 4 minutes
26 April 2017

NEW YORK: Corporate sourcing of renewables in the US has reached record levels with nearly half of the country’s biggest companies having set climate targets, according to a new report released on Tuesday.

The Power Forward 3.0 report, produced by WWF, Ceres, Calvert Research and Management and CDP, shows that 48% of the 2016 Fortune 500 (240 companies) have a target for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction, renewable energy, energy efficiency, or a combination of these.

The largest corporates continue to lead, with 63% of Fortune 100 companies setting targets, and the report shows that these efforts are improving companies’ bottom lines and driving the business case for renewable power.

Raising ambition

The report indicates a clear increase in corporate climate ambition, with a range of companies committing to 100% renewable power. Science-based targets have also been widely adopted that align with the 2015 Paris Agreement goal of limiting global temperature rise well below two degrees Celsius to avoid catastrophic impacts of climate change.

Members of RE100 - which is run by The Climate Group in partnership with CDP and brings together influential businesses committed to 100% renewable power - represent some of the major buyers of clean energy, with Google expecting to be powered entirely by renewables this year.

Technology giant, Apple, and the San Francisco-based business software company, Salesforce, are also leading the way on clean energy uptake and emissions reduction, with Walmart, General Motors, Bank of America, and Facebook also being cited in the report for their bold efforts.

Mike Pierce, Corporate Partnerships Director, The Climate Group, said: “The report shows that the business case for corporate sourcing of renewables is indisputable and companies in the US are driving towards decarbonization because it makes sense for their bottom lines. It sends a powerful message to the Federal government in the US, and to businesses and administrations across the world, that we are heading towards a clean energy future.

“By setting ambitious climate targets and aligning their business models with the Paris Agreement, these companies are making a clear call to action for long-term policy clarity and continued participation in the historic global deal.”

Major savings

The report shows that the 240 companies decreased their annual emissions by a combined 155.7 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent, the same as taking 45 coal-fired power plants offline every year.

Significantly, 190 companies collectively reported $3.7 billion in annual cost savings from energy efficiency projects they have implemented to meet their targets.

The most common climate target category for Fortune 500 companies was GHG reduction, with 211, or 42%, having either an absolute or and intensity-based emissions reduction target - up from 38% in the previous edition of the report. 53 companies on the index set renewable energy targets in 2016, up from 42, with many more using renewables to meet their emissions reduction targets.

The report highlights a wide spread of target setting among different sectors, with Consumer Staples leading way with 72% of companies having set a target. The Materials sector is second on the list with 66% followed by Utilities with 65%. The Real Estate and Information Technology sectors follow closely behind, with 60% and 57% respectively. The Telecommunications, Consumer Discretionary and Healthcare sectors are rank just below the index average of 48%, at 43%, 42% and 41%, respectively.

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