Climate science gives competitive advantage to big companies including Mars, Enel and CLP Holdings

Author:
Clare Saxon Ghauri
Reading time: 4 minutes
20 May 2015

PARIS: A partnership between CDP, UN Global Compact, World Resources Institute and WWF launches today, to encourage influential energy-intensive companies from around the world to set carbon emission reduction targets which are in line with climate science.

Announced today at the Business & Climate Summit during Climate Week Paris – which is convened by The Climate Group – the ambitious Science Based Target initiative aims to recruit 100 companies by the end of 2015, who by joining, will offer a leading example to their peers by setting emission targets compliant with the scientifically-acknowledged global temperature rise limit of 2 degrees Celsius.

The new targets are critical because even though 80% of the biggest 500 companies in the world told CDP they had emission reduction goals in place in 2014, only a few of those reached the scale required to properly address the threat of climate change.

An interactive report by CDP, Mind the Science, was revealed in Paris by Pedro Faria, Technical Director, CDP. The report assesses emissions targets for 70 energy intensive companies, which together account for 9% of global carbon emissions

But sticking to more severe targets shouldn’t mean profits have to suffer, according to the report. Authors write: “Setting science-based targets is compatible with economic growth. In fact, such targets can help drive innovation, reduce costs and enhance profitability.”

Thankfully many companies are already leading the way with innovative and ambitious strategies to amp up their investment in renewables. One example is Mars Global, which has long set bold targets and is now part of RE100, a project of The Climate Group and CDP that supports global companies to go 100% renewable.

Speaking at the launch event in Paris today, Kevin Rabinovitch, Global Sustainability Director at Mars, said way back in 2007 his team translated the IPCC’s AR4 to mean business should aim for 80% emissions reductions by 2050. He explained renewables is “the big one” for achieving the targets, nodding to the wind farm the company opened last year which already covers 100% of its US operations.

Also aiming high is Enel, Italy’s largest power company and Europe’s second-largest listed utility by installed capacity. It is developing a business model in line with the 2 degrees scenario and also wants to reach carbon neutrality by 2050.

Speaking at the launch event, Andrea Valcada, Head of Sustainability at Enel said companies are “more advanced than people think” when it comes to forward-thinking, low carbon strategies. In a statement he commented: “We strongly believe that decarbonization is essential for guaranteeing the long-term sustainability of the global economy and at Enel we are leading this transition within the energy industry, obtaining a competitive advantage in the process.”

Jeanne Ng, Director US, CLP Holdings was also in attendance at today’s launch. She said clean technologies supported by emissions reductions is a key focus for the China-based company, which was one of the “early movers” on setting science-based targets. Jeanne also mentioned that 50% of CLP Holdings invested capital outside Hong Kong will go on renewables, adding: “Rest assured, everyone in our sector is trying hard.”

NRG Energy Inc, Sodexo, Hennes & Mauritz AB and BT Group are other examples of global companies that have signed up to the campaign to set science approved emission reduction targets.

At the end of the business panel in Paris, which was moderated by Kevin Moss, Global Director of Business Center at World Resources Institute (WRI), Cynthia Cummis, Deputy Director of WRI called for other businesses that are "ready" to set robust climate targets, to sign up on the new Science Based Target initiative website.

The Science Based Target initiative joins a stream of voices that this year are aligning their messaging to ask world leaders to agree long-term emission reduction targets in line with a scientifically-agreed safe 2 degree world, ahead of global climate talks in Paris this December. With such common-sense incentives as cheaper energy, competitive advantage and sector-leading innovation, these businesses can see how climate science makes economic sense.

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By Arianna Tozzi and Clare Saxon Ghauri


Climate Week Paris, which is convened by The Climate Group, takes place from May 18-24, 2015. See the full calendar of events including further Twitter Q&As, by visiting ClimateWeekParis.org

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